A bipartisan report from the high-ranking Senate Intelligence Committee has strengthened the case against Donald Trump in assessing the scope of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
While concluding, like its predecessor the Mueller report, that the Trump campaign had not engaged in a coordinated conspiracy with the Russian government, contacts between Trump advisers and agents of the Russian state were far more extensive than previously believed, the report, published on Tuesday August 18, concluded.
For example, Konstantin V. Kilimnik has now been identified as a serving Russian intelligence officer while also being a longstanding associate of the Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was later jailed for seven and a half years on federal charges. The two men met on numerous occasions.
The Senate investigation found that two other people who met at Trump Tower in 2016 with senior members of the Trump campaign — including Mr Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son — have “significant connections to Russian government, including the Russian intelligence services.”
The report said that the connections between the Russian government and one of the individuals, Natalia Veselnitskaya, “were far more extensive and concerning than what had been publicly known.” Veselnitskaya had acted as the legal liaison for the Trump-sponsored Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. She also fought the Magnitsky Act and was charged with one count of obstructing justice in a major money-laundering case in New York.
The New York Times has reiterated that the Mueller report, published in April 2019, documented attempts by Moscow to undermine confidence in the electoral process and sway the election toward Mr. Trump by hacking and dumping Democratic emails and engaging in sophisticated manipulation campaigns using social media.
After years of work, Mr. Mueller found dozens of contacts between Trump associates and Russian-connected actors, evidence that the Trump campaign welcomed the Kremlin’s attempts to sabotage the election and “expected it would benefit electorally” from the hacking and dumping of Democratic emails.
Releasing the latest report less than 100 days before Election Day, lawmakers hope it will refocus attention on the interference by Russia and other hostile foreign powers in the American political process that has continued unabated, the New York Times said, adding that the report is the product of one of the few congressional investigations in recent memory that retained bipartisan support throughout.
PHOTO: Natalia Veselnitskaya. Reuters