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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Russia-Gate, Trump collusion real, concludes Republican-led Senate report

Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos Staff

Trump and Putin Soviet Era Poster | Envisioning The American DreamA new 966-page report released Tuesday by the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee reads like the bestselling spy thriller that the Special Counsel's Russia investigation failed to deliver.

The new details are a simply stunning indictment of the Trump campaign's ties to Russian government officials and intelligence operations suggesting that, at best, Trump campaign officials worked in close coordination with Russian operatives throughout much of the election. 

At worst, the document could be viewed as evidence that the Trump campaign ultimately became a front for a Russian influence operation.  

Of the many revelatory details included in Volume 5 of the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia report, the new information related to Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are among the most damning of all.

Manafort's central role in the campaign and proximity to Trump "created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign," writes the committee. 

In fact, the panel went a step further than Special Counsel Robert Mueller did in defining Manafort's longtime associate and close ally Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence operative. 


"Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer," stated the report. "Kilimnik became an integral part of Manafort's operations in Ukraine and Russia ... Kilimnik and Manafort formed a close and lasting relationship that endured to the 2016 U.S. elections and beyond."

Overall, the committee admits that much of the communication between Manafort and Kilimnik during the election remains a mystery, as is their involvement in the Russian GRU intelligence agency's "hack-and-leak operation" targeting the 2016 elections. The report says the Senate panel obtained "some information" suggesting Kilimnik may have been involved the GRU's hack attack. 

It also states it found "two pieces of information" that "raise the possibility of Manafort's potential connection to the hack-and-leak operations." But most of the rest of that section is redacted.  

But before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016 and throughout his time on the campaign, Manafort "directly and indirectly communicated" with Kilimnik, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine. 

On numerous occasions, the panel writes, "Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information with Kilimnik," including polling data and the campaign's strategy for defeating Hillary Clinton.

"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," writes the Senate Intelligence panel.

Furthermore, the panel notes that Manafort's repeated lies to the Special Counsel's office about his interactions with Kilimnik undermined Mueller's investigation and kept most of the content of their communications under wraps. 

"Manafort's obfuscation ... effectively foreclosed direct insight into a series of interactions and communications which represent the single most direct tie between senior Trump Campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services," says the report. 

For reasons unknown to the committee, Manafort also willingly accepted a longer sentence for refusing to reveal more details to Mueller about his communications with Kilimnik.  

"Manafort's true motive in deciding to face more severe criminal penalties rather than provide complete answers about his interactions with Kilimnik is unknown, but the result is that many interactions between Manafort and Kilimnik remain hidden."

Uh, sounds like someone was a lot more concerned about Putin's administration of justice than that of the U.S. justice system.

Several other eye-popping sections of the report regarding Ukraine, Roger Stone, Don Jr., and Michael Cohen are included.

Roger Stone/WikiLeaks

Although WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have maintained that Russia was not the source of their many email dumps regarding Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic officials, the Senate Intelligence Committee "found significant evidence to suggest that, in the summer of 2016, WikiLeaks was knowingly collaborating with Russian government officials.” 

At one point the report states the GRU "transferred the Podesta emails to WikiLeaks," referring to the emails of John Podesta that were leaked within an hour of the release of Trump's Access Hollywood "grab her by the pussy" tape. 

The committee report also clearly states that longtime Trump ally and friend Roger Stone knew Podesta would be a target in advance of the email dump and directly relayed that information to Trump and his senior campaign officials.

Stone also appears to have played a part in the timing of WikiLeaks' dump of the Podesta emails on Oct. 7, shortly after the Access Hollywood tapes surfaced. 

According to radio host Jerome Corsi—who served as a liaison between Stone and a WikiLeaks source—Stone and Corsi spoke twice on Oct. 7 at length about the Access Hollywood tape coming out. 

"Stone '[w]anted the Podesta stuff to balance the news cycle' either 'right then or at least coincident.' According to Corsi, Stone also told him to have WikiLeaks 'drop the Podesta emails immediately,'" states the report.

Don Jr./Trump Tower

Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort appear to have effectively met with a Russian spy in their infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. 

The key leader of that delegation, Natalia Veselnitskaya had "significant and concerning connections to Russian government and intelligence officials, and has not been forthcoming about those relationships," the report states.

Also, Don Jr. indeed intended to get dirt on Clinton from that Russian operative at the meeting. "The Committee found evidence suggesting that it was the intent of the Campaign participants in the June 9, 2016 meeting, particularly Donald Trump Jr., to receive derogatory information that would be of benefit to the Campaign from a source known, at least by Trump Jr., to have connections to the Russian government," says the report. But the committee found no evidence any material was actually relayed at the meeting.

Ukraine

Ukrainian interference in the 2016 was a total fabrication. "The Committee identified no reliable evidence that the Ukrainian government interfered in the 2016 election," states the report.

The report further reveals that Russian intelligence operative Kilimnik "almost certainly helped arrange some of the first public messaging that Ukraine had interfered in the U.S. election."
Hello Ivanka

"Using Trump to promote WikiLeaks was a deliberate strategy employed by the Campaign, not only in his remarks, but also on social media. 

In mid-October, Ivanka Trump tasked the Campaign's senior officials (including ]:Jannon, Scavino, Stephen Miller and Jason Miller) with preparing two Trump tweets every day linking to WikiLeaks content, which, she said, would help 'refocus the narrative,'" states the report.

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen said that after he was indicted by the Southern District of New York, "he discussed a potential pardon for himself with Jay Sekulow ‘more than half a dozen times.’ Cohen further stated that he understood the pardon discussions had come from Trump through Sekulow," according to the report.