Politics & Policy

Senate Intel Committee Concludes Russia Took Advantage of ‘Inexperienced’ Trump Team, FBI Gave Steele Dossier Too Much ‘Credence’

Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) and the committee’s vice chairman Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)(5th R) stand with members of the committee as they speak on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The Senate Intelligence Committee released the fifth and final volume of its report on the Russia investigation on Tuesday, concluding that Russia attempted to influence the Trump team but also that the FBI gave “unjustified credence” to the Steele dossier.

The committee found that Russia “took advantage” of the Trump team’s “relative inexperience in government, opposition to Obama administration policies, and Trump’s desire to deepen ties with Russia to pursue unofficial channels through which Russia could conduct diplomacy.” However, the report concludes that the Trump-campaign did not “collude” with Russian operatives to win the 2016 election.

“Over the last three years, the Senate Intelligence Committee conducted a bipartisan and thorough investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and undermine our democracy,” acting committee head Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said in a statement on Tuesday. “No probe into this matter has been more exhaustive.”

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), a member of the committee, said that the U.S. should now move to focus on future threats to the country.

“It’s now time to shift our focus to the many national-security threats facing our country instead of re-litigating the 2016 election,” Cotton said in a statement. “Just because Russia failed this time doesn’t mean it won’t keep trying.”

The report detailed the vulnerabilities of several Trump-campaign officials, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort as well as George Papadopoulos, to exploitation by Russian intelligence. Manafort is currently serving a 7.5 year prison sentence for various fraud charges.

In March 2016, Manafort “directly and indirectly communicated” with pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine, including Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik.

“On numerous occasions, Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information with Kilimnik,” the report states. “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 Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”

As for Papadopoulos, the report states that he “was not a witting cooptee of the Russian intelligence services,” however he “presented a prime intelligence target and potential vector for malign Russian influence.”

While the report found substantial evidence of Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 elections, it concluded that the Trump-campaign did not actively collude with Russian operatives. Additionally, the report is highly critical of “deeply troubling actions taken” by the FBI during their investigation into alleged collusion, “particularly their acceptance and willingness to rely on the ‘Steele Dossier’ without verifying its methodology or sourcing.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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