Senate Republicans provide hard evidence that shreds Trump’s persistent lies about a Russia ‘hoax’

By | August 21, 2020

David Ignatius writes:

As Democrats accelerate their drive to defeat President Trump in November, they have a potent new weapon in a report by a Republican-led Senate committee that chronicles the “grave counterintelligence threat” posed by the extensive contacts between Trump’s former campaign chairman and a Russian intelligence operative.

The final volume of the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation arrives late in the game. Still, it offers the detailed accounting of how Russian spies worked with the Trump team that former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should have given the country last year. It offers raw material for the wide-ranging impeachment inquiry that the House of Representatives should have conducted.

Here at last is hard evidence — certified by GOP committee leaders and published this week — that shreds Trump’s false claims of a Russia “hoax” or “witch hunt.” Let us never hear that glib dismissal of fact again. From now on, the simple answer to Trump is: “That’s not what Senate Republicans found.”

The document is 952 pages, stuffed with obscure names and details, and few will read much of it. But as someone who has spent four years examining arcane aspects of this story, I can summarize the findings that make the report so powerful.

The most important is that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman for much of 2016, had repeated secret contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, bluntly described in the report as a “Russian intelligence officer.” Manafort had worked with Kilimnik since 2004, and shared detailed, sensitive information with him before, during and after the campaign.

We knew that Manafort had worked with Kilimnik, but the scope of their interactions, as laid out in the report, is astonishing. In page after page, the report describes how Manafort communicated secretly with Kilimnik, shared internal Trump campaign data with him, discussed plans that would advance Russia’s interests in Ukraine and took other questionable actions.

As the report describes it, Manafort was determined to obscure his relationship with Kilimnik. Pressed by Mueller about his contacts with him, Manafort “lied consistently,” the report says. He used encrypted communication devices, secret meetings and private code words to obscure his actions. This relationship, says the report, was “the single most direct tie between senior Trump Campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services.” [Continue reading…]

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