The Senate Intelligence Committee released the fifth and final volume of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and its findings don’t look great for the former chair of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, who has since been convicted of unrelated fraud and tax charges.
The bipartisan report mostly agreed with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that the Trump campaign embraced some of the results of Russian intelligence interference and info leaked by WikiLeaks that damaged the Clinton campaign, but found “absolutely no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
The committee did, however, hint at the possibility that Manafort at least was aware of Moscow’s goal. Manafort, who Axios notes began working on influence operations for Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs in 2004, worked closely with a Russian national named Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the committee described definitively as a Russian intelligence officer. Manafort apparently tried to pass sensitive internal polling data and campaign strategy to Kilimnik while he was chairing the campaign, but the committee wasn’t able to determine why or what Kilimnik did with the information. However, the report did say the committee obtained “some information” Kilimnik was connected to Russia’s hacking and leaking of Democratic emails.
VP nominee Kamala Harris, a member of the Intelligence Committee, is heard from here, along with Feinstein, Heinrich, Bennet and Wyden, not mincing words. They say committee Manafort’s actions in ’16 are “what collusion looks likes.” pic.twitter.com/jEucRDtlq0
— Dan Friedman (@dfriedman33) August 18, 2020
Ultimately, there was nothing definitively linking Manafort to the interference, but regardless the report still concluded his “high level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services … represented a grave counterintelligence threat.” Read more at Axios. Tim O’Donnell