Recently, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a fifth report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Senate insiders obviously coordinated with allies in the media to spin the 1,000-page report in a desperate effort to revive the Russian collusion hoax.
Robert Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann, who is promoting a new book, helped pump up the “new” revelations, citing information about Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik’s relationship and Roger Stone’s alleged foreknowledge of the public release of WikiLeaks emails. Neither story is new and both have been thoroughly debunked by the free, non-legacy press, such as The Federalist. Below is a brief, partial list of debunked conspiracy theories the report attempted to resurrect with the help of hoaxers in the media.
Lie 1: Manafort Endangered U.S. Security by Feeding Information to the Russian Government
The report found that “Manafort’s presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign. Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”
This is false. Manafort shared internal Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik, a longtime employee. Neither the Mueller report nor the Senate report produced evidence, beyond innuendo, the Kilimnik was an active intelligence officer acting on orders from the Kremlin.
In the immediate aftermath of the May 2019 special counsel report, reporter Paul Sperry debunked the report’s innuendo against Kilimnik. He wrote,
The special prosecutor’s report indicated that one of Manafort’s Kremlin handlers was Konstantin Kilimnik. ‘Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election,’ it said. ‘That briefing encompassed the Campaign’s messaging and its internal polling data. It also included discussion of ‘battleground’ states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.’
Except that this wouldn’t have been an unusual conversation: Kilimnik was a longtime Manafort employee who ran the Ukraine office of his lobbying firm. Footnotes in Mueller’s report show that Manafort shared campaign information to impress a former business partner, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was suing him over financial losses. Mueller failed to tie the information exchange to Russian espionage. He also failed to mention that Deripaska is an FBI informant.’
The New York Times broke that Deripaska was a U.S. informant the FBI tried to use to entrap the Trump campaign. The Times then reported that the FBI “pressed Mr. Deripaska about whether his former business partner, Mr. Manafort, had served as a link to the Kremlin during his time as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman….Mr. Deripaska, though, told the F.B.I. agents that while he had no love for Mr. Manafort, with whom he was in a bitter business dispute, he found their theories about his role on the campaign ‘preposterous.’” Yet in its dishonest reporting on the latest Senate report, the Times failed to cite its own scoop from September 2018.
Lie 2: The Trump Tower Meeting Was a Product of Russian Intelligence
The Senate report claims, “The information that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, offered during the June 9, 2016 meeting and planned to offer again at the follow-up meeting requested by Aras. Agalarov was part of a broader influence operation targeting the United States that was coordinated, at least in part, with elements of the Russian government.”
If that’s true, then Hillary Clinton and Democrat PR firm Fusion GPS were the ones working with the Russians to interfere with the election. In June 2016, members of the Trump campaign including Donald Trump Jr. briefly met with an oddball delegation that included two Russians, one of whom claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
The firm Clinton hired to frame Trump for colluding with the Russians, Fusion GPS, had longstanding ties with both of those Russians, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin. The Senate report discloses that Veselnitskaya used research from Fusion GPS as bait.
Obviously, it’s not a coincidence that the two Russians the Trump campaign met also happened to be working with the firm hired to frame Trump for colluding with the Russians. Indeed, as noted by the Senate report, Veselnitskaya had dinner with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson the night before and after the Trump Tower meeting.
As noted in 2018 by Lee Smith, “A growing body of evidence, however, indicates that the meeting may have been a setup — part of a broad effort to tarnish the Trump campaign involving Hillary Clinton operatives employed by Kremlin-linked figures and Department of Justice officials. This view, that the real collusion may have taken place among those who arranged the meeting rather than the Trump officials who agreed to attend it.”
It’s totally dishonest to include this meeting in a 2020 Senate report again, implying it shows the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The Trump campaign ended the meeting after a few minutes and rebuffed efforts for a follow-up.
And if the Russians did steal the Democratic National Committee emails and colluded with the Trump campaign, why didn’t Russia use this meeting to give those emails to the Trump campaign instead of a Clinton file prepared by Clinton’s subcontractor? The obvious answer is that the Clinton “dirt” was just a prop for a Fusion GPS setup meant to put Donald Trump Jr. in a room with a Russian.
Lie 3 The Trump Campaign Used Roger Stone to Get Advance Knowledge of WikiLeaks Dumps
The New York Times wrote of this theory advanced in the report:
The Intelligence Committee sought to track calls between Mr. Trump and Roger J. Stone Jr. — an adviser to the Trump campaign who was in contact with Guccifer 2.0, the online pseudonym for Russian intelligence operatives dumping the Democratic emails — in an effort to discover what Mr. Stone might have told Mr. Trump about the hacked emails.
In written answers to Mr. Mueller, Mr. Trump said he could not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Mr. Stone, a response challenged in the Senate report. ‘The committee assesses that Trump did, in fact, speak with Stone about WikiLeaks and with members of his Campaign about Stone’s access to WikiLeaks on multiple occasions,’ the report said.
But when one drills into the documents, Stone’s contacts with Guccifer 2.0 don’t appear to exceed a single exchange, which was about publicly available information. As I wrote here, Stone is just a fool who lies about gossiping. He dressed up (incorrect) speculation about the WikiLeaks dumps as though he had inside knowledge. He didn’t.
Trump denies any recollection of speaking with Stone about the WikiLeaks document dumps. If he did, all Stone had to offer was the same idle speculation anyone reading public accounts might engage in.
Stone also had virtually nothing to do with WikiLeaks in spite of his braggadocio to the contrary. According to a recent Business Insider article, Stone sent WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a Twitter message in spring 2016. That has since been characterized as a source of inside knowledge by Stone about the Clinton emails. But there’s no evidence that WikiLeaks told him anything that wasn’t already public knowledge.
To understand the absurdity of the Senate committee pushing the Roger Stone-Russia connection, one must first understand that Stone is a wannabe insider. In a way, Stone’s arrest was the fulfillment of his dream to be relevant to the grand drama of the Russia controversy.
Although the report mentions Stone a whopping 113 times, it’s forced to admit that Stone really didn’t know anything that wasn’t already public. One bullet reads, “The Committee could not reliably determine the extent of authentic, non-public knowledge about WikiLeaks that Stone obtained and shared with the Campaign.” It’s telling that the Senate Intelligence Committee would dignify the sordid and irrelevant Roger Stone story with any attention at all.
Don’t forget a question Sperry posed: “Did Robert Mueller Tap Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to Assist His Anti-Trump Investigation?” Recall that after the election, the get-Trump movement raised millions of dollars to continue funding Fusion GPS.
Then, in a particularly tell-tale sign of Fusion’s involvement in the Mueller report, their company name does not appear a single time in that report. Only a party interested in protecting Fusion GPS could produce an extensive report on the Russian collusion hoax without mentioning the firm that was behind it all.
The Senate report mentions Fusion GPS a mere two times in spite of reporting extensively on Fusion GPS-connected events. That leads one to again wonder whether Fusion GPS might have had editorial input in the Senate report.