After the Mueller report came up short on collusion, can new evidence in the final Senate Intelligence Committee report change anything?
The Senate Intelligence Committee released its fifth and final report investigating Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections. The report shows that Trump campaign aides and officials, including Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, coordinated information sharing and campaign strategy with Russia and WikiLeaks.
The Trump campaign denied the report indicated collusion, calling the probe into Russian interference as the “greatest political scandal in the history of this country.”
- He contacted Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Ukrainian oligarchs before, during, and after his time on the Trump campaign to provide inside information and offer assistance to Russian-aligned interests.
- The report states: “Manafort's true motive in deciding to face more severe criminal penalties rather than provide complete answers about his interactions with Kilimnik (a Russian intelligence officer) is unknown, but the result is that many interactions between Manafort and Kilimnik remain hidden”
- Manafort has been in prison since June, 2018 on a 7.5-year sentence for tax fraud and foreign lobbying crimes, but was recently granted house arrest during the pandemic.
- The report states: “Trump and senior campaign officials sought to obtain advance information about WikiLeaks through Roger Stone”
- Stone continually updated the Trump campaign on upcoming leaks related to Hillary Clinton.
- He also sought to have John Podesta’s emails released to distract Americans from the Access Hollywood tape that includes audio of Trump bragging about sexual assault.
Why it Matters:
Receiving advanced notice of leaked information allowed the Trump campaign to tailor its campaign strategy and communications to an extent that questions the legitimacy of the election at minimum. The fact that people connected to Trump and his campaign solicited further leaks and information should dissuade any notions that Trump simply benefited from Russian actions instead of actively orchestrating them.
Bipartisan Agreement on Russian Interference
The Senate Intelligence Committee agrees that Russia meddled in the election, including that Putin instigated hacking and leaking Democratic party emails. However, bipartisan efforts to strengthen our election system in response to this threat are less certain.