Four New Facts in the Senate Intelligence Report on Russia and Trump


Image via AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

By Emiene Wright

August 19, 2020

Detailed investigation finds close ties between Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officers.

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded a three-year investigation of Russian interference in 2016 to help elect President Donald Trump, releasing an extensive report detailing the extensive efforts of Russian intelligence operatives to undermine the presidential election.

Using information from over 200 witness interviews and hundreds of thousands of documents, the nearly 1,000 page report examined in minute detail Russia’s actions as a national security threat. It is much broader than the report from special prosecutor Robert Mueller, which was specifically examining if a crime was committed by Trump and his campaign officials.

The report stopped short of concluding that the Trump campaign fully conspired with the Russian government, instead portraying campaign associates as businessmen with no government experience who were “attractive targets for foreign influence” and easily manipulated by their desire for information that could help their candidate secure the presidency. 

The findings paint a clear picture of the ways the Kremlin used Trump’s campaign to sway and weaken American democracy. Among the dozens of new findings:

  • A frequent contact of Trump’s then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, was a Russian intelligence officer
  • Trump discussed Wikileaks with Roger Stone to gain access to sensitive information that had been stolen by a foreign intelligence agency, despite later saying he couldn’t recall talking to Stone about it
  • The Russians who attended a June 2016 meeting with Trump campaign officials had “significant connections to the Russian government, including Russian intelligence services”
  • Russia helped craft the misinformation that Ukraine was the source of U.S. election interference

Kremlin operatives “were capable of exploiting the transition team’s shortcomings,” the report said. “Based on the available information, it is possible — and even likely — that they did so,” resulting in “notable counterintelligence vulnerabilities.”

Manafort’s extensive contact with Kilimnik and others affiliated with the Russian intelligence services “represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the report said. An appendix in the report, added by Democrats, revealed that Manafort went over campaign strategy and details of internal polling data with Kilimnik, then lied to federal investigators about doing so. 

“This is what collusion looks like,” it read, countering Republicans claims to the contrary. It served as a reminder that although this was a bipartisan investigation with agreement on most major points, Republicans were unwilling to specifically label the activity as collusion.

“The Russians were doing things to disrupt American democracy and help the Trump campaign and the Trump campaign was doing things to amplify and utilize what the Russians were supplying,” Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent and member of the Senate Intelligence committee, said in an interview. “There may not have been an explicit agreement but they were both consciously pursuing the same end, which was the election of Donald Trump. And for the Russians, the extra benefit was disrupting American democracy.”

The committee’s findings “should be an alarm bell for the nation,” Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Kamala Harris and Michael Bennet wrote in a statement following the report’s release Tuesday. 

President Trump minimized the evidence and continues to promote false theories in speeches and on Twitter. In a recent instance, he spread misleading information about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden after U.S. intelligence had labeled it Russian propaganda. 

“Russia is actively interfering again in the 2020 US election to assist Donald Trump, and some of the President’s associates are amplifying those efforts,” the senators wrote. 


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