Lost in the noise of yesterday's extremely busy news day on the Trump regime investigation front with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's second batch out of four preliminary findings, and those findings are extremely bad news for Donald and friends.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has determined the U.S. intelligence community was correct in assessing Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the aim of helping then-candidate Donald Trump, contradicting findings House Republicans reached last month.
“We see no reason to dispute the [intelligence community’s] conclusions,” the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), said Wednesday in a joint statement with its vice chair, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who added: “Our staff concluded that the ... conclusions were accurate and on point. The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.”
This marks the second of four interim findings the intelligence committee has said it will disclose before tackling the more consequential question of whether Trump and his associates colluded with Russia to influence the election’s outcome, allegations the president has denied and sought to discredit. The committee, which earlier this month released related findings on election security, is expected to publish a comprehensive final report this fall.
Wednesday’s announcement comes amid growing Republican scrutiny of the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose team also is examining whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Kremlin and if the president obstructed justice in a bid to limit the probe’s scope.
The Senate committee’s findings clash with the House GOP’s determination that the intelligence community did not follow its own best practices in concluding the Kremlin favored Trump in the election. The dispute — and the questions it now raises about which record of events is most accurate — could complicate the Republican Party’s messaging heading into the 2018 election season.
Again, this is all the more amazing because the Senate Intel Committee is headed by NC Republican Sen. Richard Burr, and Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, and both of them worked together on the report. None of this nonsense by Republicans like we saw with Devin Nunes in the House.
But the Senate Judiciary Committee released their preliminary findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election too, and there are some explosive allegations in that Senate Judiciary report, mainly that the Russians funneled assistance to the Trump campaign through the National Rifle Association.
The Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that the Russian government apparently used the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
Documents suggest the Kremlin used the NRA to offer the campaign a back channel to Moscow—including a potential meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin—and might have secretly funded Trump’s campaign, the committee said. One of the Russians named in the report even bragged she was part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia, The Daily Beast reported last year.
The NRA spent a record $30 million on Trump and the FBI is reportedly investigating whether any of the money came from Russia. U.S. law prohibits foreign money to be spent on elections.
Two Russian nationals figure prominently in the alleged scheme: Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Kremlin’s central bank, and his then-deputy Maria Butina.
Torshin met Donald Trump Jr. at the NRA’s 2016 convention in Kentucky and hosted an NRA delegation in Moscow in 2015. Torshin was previously accused by Spanish investigators of laundering money for Russian mobsters, an allegation he denied. (Last month he was sanctioned by the U.S.)
Butina founded a pro-gun group in Russia before coming to the United States in 2015 when she immediately began ingratiating herself in conservative circles. Butina started a business with NRA member and GOP activist Paul Erickson.
In May 2016, the same month Torshin met Trump Jr. at the NRA convention, Erickson emailed a Trump advisor about setting up a meeting between the candidate and Putin.
So two separate Senate committee reports not only found Russian interference on behalf of Trump, but evidence of involvement with the Trump campaign during the operation.
This is all but saying the Russians helped Trump steal the election, folks. This is massive.