The Mueller probe continues (for now at least) and so do the House and Senate investigations. They're following the money, separately and in tandem, and apparently the trail of Russian meddling and the 2016 election has led to the doorstep of one third-party candidate: Green Party gadfly Dr. Jill Stein.
The top congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has set its sights on the Green Party and its nominee, Jill Stein.
Dennis Trainor Jr., who worked for the Stein campaign from January to August of 2015, says Stein contacted him on Friday saying the Senate Intelligence Committee had requested that the campaign comply with a document search.
Trainor, who served as the campaign’s communications director and acting manager during that time, told BuzzFeed News that he was informed of the committee’s request because during his time on the campaign, his personal cell phone was “a primary point of contact” for those looking to reach Stein or the campaign. That included producers from RT News, the Russian state-funded media company, who booked Stein for several appearances, Trainor said.
“Then I was told by Jill just to wait for further instructions,” Trainor said, adding that he was told the campaign would contact him in the next week with instructions, presumably from the Senate Intelligence Committee, for executing the document search, including precise search terms. That has not happened yet, Trainor said.
When asked Monday what the committee was looking for from the Stein campaign, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the committee’s chairman, responded, "collusion with the Russians." Burr said that the committee is "just starting" its work investigating two campaigns, but did not elaborate.
Stein did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trainor, who has done on-and-off work for Stein since formally leaving the campaign in 2015, said he is inclined to cooperate with the committee’s request but wants to first seek legal counsel. He said he believes Stein plans to comply as well and post the documents on her own website “in an effort to show complete transparency and kind of wage her own war against [...] what I imagine she thinks is an overblown investigation into collusion.”
Stein has not previously been a major focus during the Russia investigations on Capitol Hill, but her name has surfaced occasionally. The Senate Judiciary mentioned her in a letter to Donald Trump Jr. in July, requesting copies of “all communications to, from, or copied” to the president’s son that related to Stein and a long list of other, more prominent figures in the investigations.
Trainor said he would be surprised if Stein ever communicated with Trump Jr., who participated in an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors for more than nine hours last Wednesday. “Don Jr. has been incredibly cooperative with the committee,” Burr said Thursday.
Stein’s name has also come up in the context of a 2015 dinner hosted by RT in Moscow. Stein sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Michael Flynn, who served as Donald Trump’s first White House national security adviser until he was ousted just 24 days into the job. Flynn recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting a criminal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trainor said he expects the Senate Intelligence Committee will want to know more about the Moscow dinner, but that he wasn’t employed by the campaign at that time and therefore wouldn’t have any documents related to the event. Stein has said that unlike Flynn, she was not paid to attend the dinner and paid for her own travel costs.
That Russia Today dinner with Flynn and Putin has always struck me as weird, if not outright bad news. Sure, you couldn't find a better third-party foil to mess up America's elections than Jill Stein, especially if you were trying to throw the election away from Clinton by attacking her from the left. I always figured Stein was Putin backup plan, considering he had the man he wanted, Donald Trump, squarely in the spotlight.
Then again, Stein's margin in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are what cost her those states and the election. If she hadn't siphoned votes from Clinton, Hillary would have won.
I don't feel bad at all that she's drawn the attention of investigators. Meanwhile a Washington Post piece from last week is getting attention because it flatly points out that the nation's intelligence services knew the Trump campaign team was compromised by the Russians, but Trump refused to lift a finger to do anything to stop them...and still hasn't done so.
In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.
Holding impromptu interventions in Trump’s 26th-floor corner office at Trump Tower, advisers — including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus — prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6.
They sought to convince Trump that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without diminishing his electoral win, according to three officials involved in the sessions. More important, they said that doing so was the only way to put the matter behind him politically and free him to pursue his goal of closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This was part of the normalization process,” one participant said. “There was a big effort to get him to be a standard president.”
But as aides persisted, Trump became agitated. He railed that the intelligence couldn’t be trusted and scoffed at the suggestion that his candidacy had been propelled by forces other than his own strategy, message and charisma.
The story goes on to say that the intelligence bureaus straight up told Trump that they had evidence that Putin himself had given these orders to interfere in the election, but Trump's ego refused to allow him to believe that he was helped to a victory he clearly felt he had been granted by dint of his own glory.
And Trump still has yet to deal with Russia. He's not going to, because he's a Russian asset. Don't take my word for it though, take Jim Clapper's.
While his career had its ups and downs—you don’t work in any trade for over 50 years without missteps—the former far outweighed the latter. Clapper, a retired Air Force three-star general, is widely respected in national security circles, across partisan lines, as a guy who knows his stuff and focuses on the job. Naturally, he’s exceptionally discreet as well.
That changed yesterday, when Clapper went on CNN to drop an unimaginably large bombshell on President Donald Trump. Since the inauguration in January, Clapper has made a few critical comments regarding the president and his strange ties to Moscow, but these have been largely anodyne. Clapper began showing his hand in September, with a comment that the IC assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election raised questions about why Trump was in the White House: it “cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election,” he stated.
At the end of October, in an interview with Politico, Clapper added more about Kremlin interference in the 2016 election: “The Russians have succeeded, I believe, beyond their wildest expectations.” Clapper dismissed President Trump’s repeated attacks on the investigation of his Moscow links as “fake news” with a warning that the Russians “have been emboldened and they will continue to do this.”
Clapper went considerably further yesterday in his appearance on CNN’s The Lead, in which he finally let his top secret mask drop to say what he really thinks about our 45th president:
I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president … You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.
When pressed about what exactly he was saying, Clapper explained that he meant his words “figuratively,” but that barely mitigates the shock value of what he said. To be perfectly clear: America’s most experienced spy boss publicly termed our president an asset—that is, a witting agent—of the Kremlin who is being controlled by Vladimir Putin. Even if meant only “figuratively,” this is the most jaw-dropping statement ever uttered about any American president by any serious commentator.
Once again, Trump is attacking our intelligence services because they have the evidence that he is a Russian asset.
And most of the rest of the GOP knew this and went along willingly.