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.

Robert Mueller speaks publicly about Russia probe

Today, Robert Mueller — Special Counsel for the Investigation into Russia’s Interference in the 2016 Election — spoke publicly for the first time since his appointment to that position. Some critical takeaways include:

  1. “Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.”
  2. “The releases [of hacked documents] were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.”
  3. “…a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.”
  4. “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”
  5. “…if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.”
  6. “The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.”
  7. “…the [same Justice Department] opinion explicitly explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.”
  8. The Constitution provides an alternative route for adjudicating and punishing wrongdoing by a sitting president.

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Terror Campaign Targeting Trump Critics is Threat to Democracy

UPDATED, 12:21 pm EDT—In the last two days, packages reportedly containing explosive devices have been sent to the home of pro-democracy philanthropist George Soros, the home of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and to the office of former President Barack Obama.

Also today, CNN’s New York offices were evacuated after an explosive device was found. That package was allegedly addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan. The Secret Service reports having intercepted the packages sent to the Clintons and to the office of Mr. Obama, all of them protectees of the Secret Service. The Secret Service also has reported that rumors of a package sent to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, DC, are false.

It is clear there is a mounting campaign of violent terror being waged against people and institutions seen as a counter-weight to President Trump. The inclusion of Mr. Brennan specifically—a vocal critic of President Trump—suggests the campaign is not just anti-liberal, but also of the particular ideological perversion that views progressive politics and the federal government with suspicion and which has ties to President Trump’s base of support.

These coordinated bombing attempts are a clear sign that the campaign of hate fomented by “alt-right” extremist leaders—often seconded or promoted by the Trump White House—is turning to terrorism.

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Trump Betrayed His Country to Serve its Attacker

Newspapers across the world today echo the determination of the former CIA director John Brennan that US President Donald Trump betrayed his country when he sided with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and defamed his own intelligence community, military, and Department of Justice. Stranger still, Trump blamed the United States for tensions with Russia, ignoring a long history of anti-democracy violence and human rights abuses, forty years of Cold War, and ongoing attacks against the US and the UK.

The US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats responded by reiterating that the evidence shows an ongoing, “pervasive” effort by Russia to attack and manipulate American democratic processes.

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Stand with Charlottesville

The murder of Heather Heyer was carried out by a neo-Nazi terrorist who went to Charlottesville to join armed militia groups, who despise the core principles of American democracy. The 45th President of the United States then shocked the world by seeming to place blame on law-abiding anti-racist citizens like Ms. Heyer, while exonerating the extremist hate groups that brought about her death.

The founding creed of the United States is:

that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nazis, the KKK, and the Confederacy all used violence and terror to oppose these values and promote enslavement and genocide. The Nazis and the Confederacy murdered hundreds of thousands of loyal Americans. The KKK has waged a terrorist war against the American people for 150 years.

Donald Trump is decisive, specific, and vicious in his criticism of anyone he dislikes or disagrees with. When neo-Nazis attacked Charlottesville and killed Heather Heyer, he said “many sides” were at fault and refused repeatedly to name the racist militants responsible. In his ongoing refusal to condemn white supremacists, and in his efforts to subvert the prosecution of neo-Nazi terrorists, he has shown himself to be aligned with those whose unifying creed is hatred for the Republic he is sworn to serve. 

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