Senate’s findings on Russian interference are explosive

"Then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort 'formed a close and lasting relationship' with 'a Russian intelligence officer,' with whom he shared inside information from the president’s campaign and collaborated to concoct a false narrative that Ukraine, and not Russia, was behind the election interference."

By

Opinion

August 20, 2020 - 9:22 AM

It’s worth wondering what the impact might have been had the Senate Intelligence Committee’s final report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election appeared six months ago, before the report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the twisted account of it provided by Attorney General William P. Barr. On their own terms, the Senate’s findings, released Tuesday after a bipartisan investigation, are explosive: that then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort “formed a close and lasting relationship” with “a Russian intelligence officer,” with whom he shared inside information from the president’s campaign and collaborated to concoct a false narrative that Ukraine, and not Russia, was behind the election interference.

Further, the Senate report states that the Trump campaign “sought to maximize” the impact of leaks of Democratic documents by WikiLeaks, knowing the original source was the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU. The campaign’s intermediary was Roger Stone, whose prison sentence for lying about his involvement and tampering with witnesses was commuted last month by Mr. Trump; the president, the committee “assesses,” lied when he said he never talked to Mr. Stone about WikiLeaks.

Then there is what the Senate investigators glimpsed but could not nail down. The report cites “fragmentary” evidence that Mr. Manafort’s Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik “may have been connected to the GRU’s hack and leak operation,” and two pieces of information linking the campaign chairman himself. The full truth is unknown in part because Mr. Manafort chose to incur an extended prison sentence rather than tell prosecutors the truth about his relationship with the Russian spy.

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