It was a bombshell that got overshadowed this week. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Members of the 2016 Trump campaign represented a major counterintelligence risk to the U.S. due to their frequent contacts with individuals with close ties to the Russian government, a bipartisan Senate investigation has concluded.
The Senate Intelligence Committee released the fifth and final volume of its Russia investigation report Tuesday. The partially redacted document is nearly 1,000 pages
and largely supports the key findings on Russian election interference made by former special counsel Robert Mueller, whose probe confirmed that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election but didn’t establish conspiracy or coordination between Moscow and members of President Trump’s campaign.
Sen. Richard Burr, Former Chmn
A substantial portion of the report focuses on the connections of onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is officially described for the first time as a Russian intelligence officer, and Russia-aligned oligarchs in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort’s high-level campaign access and willingness to share information with Mr. Kilimnik and others “represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the report concluded.
The report also states that Mr. Manafort might have been connected to the Russian intelligence operation to hack and leak Democratic emails as part of its broader effort to denigrate Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and support Mr. Trump’s campaign. It cites “two pieces of information” that raise such a possibility, but the details are redacted. There is also some evidence to suggest that Mr. Kilimnik was tied to the hack-and-leak operation, although that assessment is based on what the report calls “a body of fragmentary information.”
In addition, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2019 made criminal referrals of Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Erik Prince and Sam Clovis for lying to the Committee. The referrals were sent to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, DC. It is not clear who in the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Bill Barr, made the decision to not prosecute.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report, which provides even more detail about how Trump campaign officials openly accepted the help of the Russian government, and even coordinated their efforts, shows how utterly dishonest Attorney General Barr was being when he falsely claimed the Mueller Report found there was no collusion and exonerated Trump. The Mueller Report did neither of those things.
No, the Russian interference into our 2016 election was not only real, it was an effort that was welcomed by the Trump campaign. Not only that, a new intelligence assessment indicates that Russia is at it again, working to denigrate Joe Biden while promoting Donald Trump.
OOP's short takes:
- Former Trump advisor and strategist, Steve Bannon, this morning was charged with fraud for a private fundraising effort to support Trump's desire to build a wall along the southern border. The effort had raised $18.5 million by November of 2019.
- A federal district court judge ruled today that federal prosecutors could have access to Trump's accounting records as part of a criminal investigation. This followed a United States Supreme Court ruling that the records could be accessed. Trump has already appealed today's ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay pending a full hearing on the matter before the appellate court.
- A brief commentary. Federal court judges are getting played by the Trump administration, which is using the court's deliberative processes to delay, delay, delay. Federal judges need to do a lot better of of prioritizing their calendars and acting much more quickly on these matters. There is no reason why it should take months for courts to schedule hearings and issue rulings. So many of these matters are not complex. Finally, when parties and their attorneys are making meritless arguments and pursuing meritless appeals for the purpose of scoring delays, SANCTION them. It's not rocket science.