A sprawling report released Tuesday by a Republican-controlled Senate panel that spent three years investigating Russia’s 2016 election interference laid out an extensive web of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russian government officials and other Russians, including some with ties to the country’s intelligence services.
The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, totaling nearly 1,000 pages, provided a bipartisan Senate imprimatur for an extraordinary set of facts: The Russian government undertook an extensive campaign to try to sabotage the 2016 American election to help Mr. Trump become president, and some members of Mr. Trump’s circle of advisers were open to the help from an American adversary.
But the report showed extensive evidence of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and people tied to the Kremlin — including a longstanding associate of the onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, whom the report identifies as a “Russian intelligence officer.”
The Senate report for the first time identified Mr. Kilimnik as an intelligence officer. Mr. Mueller’s report had labeled him as someone with ties to Russian intelligence.
Democrats highlighted those ties in their own appendix to the report, noting that Mr. Manafort discussed campaign strategy and shared internal campaign polling data with Mr. Kilimnik, and later lied to federal investigators about his actions.
Democrats also laid out a potentially explosive detail: that investigators had uncovered information possibly tying Mr. Kilimnik to Russia’s major election interference operations conducted by the intelligence service known as the G.R.U.
“The committee obtained some information suggesting that the Russian intelligence officer, with whom Manafort had a longstanding relationship, may have been connected to the G.R.U.’s hack-and-leak operation targeting the 2016 U.S. election,” Democrats wrote. “This is what collusion looks like.”
The Senate report said that the unusual nature of the Trump campaign — staffed by Mr. Trump’s longtime associates, friends and other businessmen with no government experience — “presented attractive targets for foreign influence, creating notable counterintelligence vulnerabilities.”
The Senate investigation found that two other people who met at Trump Tower in 2016 with senior members of the Trump campaign — including Mr. Manafort; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son — had “significant connections to Russian government, including the Russian intelligence services.”
The report said that the connections between the Russian government and one of the individuals, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, “were far more extensive and concerning than what had been publicly known.”
Lawmakers then produced a study of the response by the Obama administration and Congress in the highly partisan run-up to the 2016 election. Most recently, they found that a 2017 intelligence community assessment, assigning blame to Russia and outlining its goals to undercut American democracy, had been untainted by politics and was fundamentally sound despite attacks on it by Mr. Trump’s allies.
The report arrived in a fraught political moment, particularly for Republican senators on the panel who signed off on it and thus may find themselves at odds with Mr. Trump and other influential figures in their party. Since Mr. Mueller finished his work, Republicans close to Mr. Trump have sought to recast the president as the victim of politically motivated national security officials in the Obama administration.
The Justice Department’s independent inspector general has found that law enforcement officials had sufficient basis to open the Russia investigation and acted without political bias.
After years of work, Mr. Mueller found dozens of contacts between Trump associates and Russian-connected actors, evidence that the Trump campaign welcomed the Kremlin’s attempts to sabotage the election and “expected it would benefit electorally” from the hacking and dumping of Democratic emails.
More at the link above. Hugs