Dispatch February 13, 2019

Burr’s Blind Eye To Collusion

Senator Richard Burr needs to re-examine what he thinks is acceptable campaign contact with hostile foreign powers. The very same day that The Washington Post extensively detailed a secret meeting between Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a suspected Russian intelligence operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, Burr claimed the Senate Intelligence Committee has found “no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

How can Burr claim there’s nothing wrong with the head of a presidential campaign meeting secretly with a suspected Russia intelligence operative – in the middle of an election the Kremlin was trying to influence?

Burr is clearly picking up where Devin Nunes left off as President Donald Trump’s accomplice in Congress.

  • He has again and again been enlisted by the White House to defend Trump over the Russia investigation.
  • Committee staffers and Senator Mark Warner, the ranking member on the committee, have already pushed back on Burr’s statement.

Clear evidence already exists of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia.

  • The June 9 meeting: Donald Trump Jr. received an email from a Kremlin-linked middleman explicitly offering dirt on Hillary Clinton “as part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
    • Trump Jr. not only eagerly took the meeting but brought in the campaign’s chairman and Jared Kushner, and even offered initial guidance for when to release the “dirt.”
  • Coordination between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks: Roger Stone allegedly developed a secret backchannel to WikiLeaks at the explicit direction of top Trump campaign officials.
  • George Papadopoulos and the hacked emails: George Papadopoulos lied about meetings with a suspected Russian intelligence agent who told him in advance that Russia had stolen and planned to publish the Clinton campaign’s emails.
  • A suspected Russian agent was on the Trump campaign: Carter Page, another campaign foreign policy adviser whom U.S. intelligence repeatedly concluded may be a Russian agent, traveled to Moscow during the campaign—with explicit permission from campaign leadership—to meet with high-ranking members of the Russian government.
  • Paul Manafort passed polling data to a Russian agent: Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates passed internal polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, a man they knew had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, with specific orders to forward the information to oligarchs with a history of doing the Kremlin’s bidding.
    • According to court filings, the exchange “goes very much to the heart of what the Special Counsel’s Office is investigating”—especially given that there seems to have been a proposed quid pro quo regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Coordination with Russia was widespread and clear.