Republican-led Senate Committee finds Trump campaign chairman worked with Russian intelligence operatives

The Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has issued Volume 5 of its report on 3 years of investigations into Russia’s attack on the 2016 US Presidential election. The 996-page document details extensive contacts between Trump Campaign officials and Russian Intelligence operatives. It also provides the evidence to support these findings.

The report finds Paul Manafort worked closely with Russian intelligence operatives for many years, going back to 2004. It also found Manafort passed “targeting data” to Russian operatives, in order to assist them in their efforts to surround American voters with pro-Trump, anti-Clinton disinformation.

The report found that Manafort was paid tens of millions of dollars by “ProRussian Ukrainian oligarchs”, and that:

Manafort hired and worked increasingly closely with a Russian national, Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer. Kilimnik became an integral part of Manafort’s operations in Ukraine and Russia, serving as Manafort’s primary liaison to [Oleg] Deripaska and eventually managing Manafort’s office in Kyiv.

Reacting to the release of the report on Twitter, Evan McMullin, who ran against Trump in 2016, as an independent candidate, called Manafort’s actions “the greatest betrayal of the country ever.”

While Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says the report finds “no evidence” of collusion between Trump and Russian operatives, the report does provide extensive evidence of ongoing, deliberate collaboration on Russia’s “active measures” attack on the election. The Republican-led committee also specifically said:

Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.

Volume 5 of the Senate Intelligence Committee report into Russia’s interference focused on counterintelligence investigations, and the potential risk to national security. Among its findings:

  • During the campaign itself, Michael Cohen—then candidate Trump’s personal lawyer—contacted Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking Russian officials, seeking assistance in the development of a Trump Tower Moscow property.
  • Donald Trump did, in fact, have multiple discussions with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks and its efforts to smear Hillary Clinton and disrupt her campaign, despite Trump having told Robert Mueller’s investigation he did not recall any such conversations.
  • Donald Trump, Jr., was aware he was meeting at Trump Tower with people involved in the Russian government’s efforts to provide (illegal) assistance to his father’s campaign.
  • The Trump Transition Team sought to prevent investigators from accessing key documents, but the Committee was able to verify that Russian intelligence sought to leverage Michael Flynn’s then undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador.
  • Russian operatives Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin “established a broad network of relationships with the leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA), conservative political operatives, Republican government officials, and individuals connected to the Trump campaign,” an effort that began as far back as 2013.

Significant portions of the report are redacted, to protect sources and methods, or the identity of individuals who were not engaged in any criminal activity. It is also thought some of the information mentioned may pertain to ongoing investigations and that witnesses may have been threatened or might be facing potential retaliation.

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