Senate Report: Former Trump Aide Paul Manafort Shared Campaign Info With Russia

by Tim Mak // www.npr.org // August 18, 2020

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort passed internal Trump campaign information to a Russian intelligence officer during the 2016 election, a new bipartisan Senate report concludes.

The findings draw a direct line between the president’s former campaign chairman and Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign.

Manafort, who was later convicted for financial fraud crimes, briefed Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik on the campaign’s polling data and how the Trump campaign sought to beat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

The committee found that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally behind the hack and leak operation that published stolen Democratic Party emails, and that WikiLeaks — the website that published them — played a key role and “very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort.”

Manafort’s connection with Kilimnik was a “grave counterintelligence threat,” the report reads, adding that it found evidence the Russian intelligence officer may have been linked to the Russian government’s efforts to hack and leak Democratic Party emails.

The findings are part of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s fifth and final bipartisan report investigating Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. This volume is primarily focused on counterintelligence threats and the wide range of Russian attempts to influence both the Trump campaign and the election.

The report builds on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — and while it was consistent with the Mueller Report, it in fact goes further.

The committee found that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally behind the hack and leak operation that published stolen Democratic Party emails, and that WikiLeaks — the website that published them — played a key role and “very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort.”

The Trump campaign sought to take advantage of those leaks by asking for advance notice of the WikiLeaks disclosures, crafting public relations strategies around them, and even encouraging “further theft of information and continued leaks.”

This took place at critical moments of the 2016 campaign, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded.

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