Russian Federation favored Trump in 2016, Senate panel says, breaking with House GOP

Erika Holt
May 17, 2018

Although the Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to weigh in on the collusion allegations, Burr and Warner have hinted for days that their panel's interim findings on the intelligence community would depart from those reached by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.

Goldstone, who arranged the meeting at the request of Azerbaijani-Russian pop singer Emin Agalarov, said, "I believed it was a bad idea and that we shouldn't do it". He described the person who contacted him via Twitter as "a lady that appeared to work at a law firm, if I recall correctly". But he later acknowledged that the president may have edited it through his close aide Hope Hicks. The statement said the meeting primarily concerned a Russian adoption program, though Trump Jr. later released the emails showing he agreed to the sit-down after he was promised information on Clinton.

The congressional panel released Kaveladze's transcript from the November 2017 interview on Wednesday.

Of course, if there was some sort of corrupt exchange at the meeting, the key players involved would not likely willingly reveal that to congressional investigators.

Senate Intelligence undertook one of three main congressional probes of Russian Federation and the 2016 election, along with the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mark Warner - made after a meeting Wednesday with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers - amounts to a vote of confidence for the spy agencies. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said it was "very clear that the goal of the Russian interference was to try to undermine confidence in our Democratic institutions - and that's why western democracies in general have been targeted by the Russians", she said.

Former FBI director James Comey had also been invited to testify about the findings to the panel, but did not attend. WikiLeaks has denied that Russian Federation was the source of the stolen emails.

After publicist Rob Goldstone promised Trump Jr. But the panel released her written responses to a letter that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent her previous year. They show that Trump Jr. says he doesn't remember ever discussing the Russian Federation investigation at all with his father.

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That's despite another attendee recalling that Akhmetshin was dressed in hot pink jeans and a hot pink shirt that day.

According to NPR, the three biggest takeaways of the released transcripts include the following: 1) The Russians meant to collude with Americans to influence the election, but there is no proof that the Americans reciprocated 2) It is unclear what happened post-Trump Tower meeting and 3) It is unclear what Donald Trump knew beforehand. They did not interview Kushner or Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, and did not issue subpoenas for documents or testimony to Trump Jr., as Democrats had urged.

Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he couldn't remember whether he had discussed the Russian Federation investigation with his father.

There are other questions too, that the transcripts raise but don't answer, including a discrepancy about how long Kushner was at the meeting as well as followup between the meeting participants -- they had denied any followup but the transcripts are the latest piece of evidence to contradict that assertion.

The interviews were part of the panel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The committee on Wednesday released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews with Trump's son and others who met with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election.

Throughout the private Senate interview, Trump Jr. appeared unapologetic about having taken the meeting, saying at one point, "I didn't think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an issue, no".

Wednesday's announcement comes amid growing Republican scrutiny of the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, 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. But if that possibility fazed Trump Jr., it didn't show in the transcripts.

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