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Rubio video releases Senate Trump/Russia report: ‘No collusion, FBI acted questionably, Manafort contact was Russian intelligence’ and more

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces the release of the fifth and final Senate Trump-Russian probe report, Aug. 18, 2020. (Sen. Marco Rubio, Twitter/Released)
August 18, 2020

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the final volume of its bipartisan report about Russian efforts to infiltrate then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, particularly by exploiting ties with largely unvetted campaign officials.

Committee chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) published the nearly 1000-page report, which interviewed more than 200 sources found “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia but did raise concerns about how the FBI initially handled the investigation.

“Final volume of Senate Intelligence bipartisan & thorough investigation into Russian 2016 efforts is now public. We found no evidence of ‘collusion.’ But we did find troubling actions by the FBI, particularly their willingness to rely on ‘Steele Dossier.’

“After more than three years of investigation by this Committee, we can now say with no doubt, there was no collusion,” the report concludes.

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Part of the report criticized the FBI’s handling of an opposition research dossier authored by Christopher Steele, which formed part of the early intelligence understanding of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“FBI gave Steele’s allegations unjustified credence, based on an incomplete understanding of Steele’s past reporting record. FBI used the Dossier in a FISA application and renewals and advocated for it to be included in the ICA before taking the necessary steps to validate assumptions about Steele’s credibility,” the report states. “Further, FBI did not effectively adjust its approach to Steele’s reporting once one of Steele’s subsources provided information that raised serious concerns about the source descriptions in the Steele Dossier.”

The report did raise concerns about the Trump campaign’s vulnerability to Russian influence. In one particular portion, the report assessed a Ukrainian businessman, Konstantin Kilimnik, was a Russian intelligence officer. Kilimnik had ties with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Manafort communicated sensitive campaign information to Kilimnik.

The report did not state clearly whether Manafort knew or suspected Kilimnik was a Russian intelligence asset but said he was not truthful in describing his interactions with Kilimnik.

Kilimnik has continued to dispute allegations he is connected to Russian intelligence, the Washington Times reported.

The Senate report said overall, lax or non-existent vetting by the Trump campaign of its advisors left them open to Russian intelligence efforts even through the transition period.

“The existence of a cadre of informal advisors to the Transition Team with varying levels of access to the President-elect and varying awareness of foreign affairs presented attractive targets for foreign influence, creating notable counterintelligence vulnerabilities,” the report states. “The lack of vetting of foreign interactions by Transition officials left the Transition open to influence and manipulation by foreign intelligence services, government officials, and co-opted business executives.”

Sen. Mark Warner, (D-VA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee also tweeted the report.

The moment folks have been waiting for is here. After more than 3 years of work at nearly 1,000 pages, #VOL5 stands as the most comprehensive examination of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. I encourage you all to review the evidence,” Warner tweeted. “This cannot happen again, especially as we head into the heat of the 2020 campaign season. I strongly urge campaigns, the Executive Branch, Congress, and the American people to heed the lessons of this report to protect our democracy.”

Another example of the Trump campaign’s vulnerability to outside influence was George Papadopoulos. The report said, “Papadopoulos was not a witting cooptee of the Russian intelligence services, but nonetheless presented a prime intelligence target and potential vector for malign Russian influence.”

The new Senate report comes less than a week after U.S. Attorney John Durham announced charges against a former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was involved in the investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged Russia-ties. Clinesmith was charged with altering a document describing Trump campaign official Carter Page’s ties with Russians, obscuring information indicating Page was actually providing information to U.S. intelligence.