In 2016, many mainstream media outlets let themselves be used by Donald Trump and his henchmen (Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, etc.) to amplify nutso Hillary conspiracy stories. It helped put Trump in the White House, where he has violated the Constitution, his oath of office, and common decency pretty much every day since.
So far this time around, the media’s track record has been better. But it’s better because all the conspiracy-mongering has fallen flat. Prosecutor John Durham, who I really thought was going to do Bill Barr’s dirty work and try to rig the election by indicting a number of deep-staters with “ties” to the Obama administration, reportedly won’t issue a report until after the election, which means he has found nothing. And Wednesday morning we learned that another prosecutor set up by Barr to try to gin up a fake scandal has folded up his tent, too. He was investigating the “unmasking” “scandal,” but he too found nothing.
Andrew Weissmann, one of the lead prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the architect of the case against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, said there is “definitely new information” in the final volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on 2016 Russian interference released Tuesday.Why it matters: It underscores the degree to which the 996-page report goes further than the Mueller investigation in some of its findings, as well as the explosive nature of some of the revelations about Manafort and other top Trump campaign officials.
What’s new: The bipartisan Senate report describes Manafort’s right-hand man Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer. “That is much further than he was described publicly by the special counsel’s office,” Weissmann points out.
The committee, like Mueller, found that Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates passed sensitive internal campaign data and strategy to Kilimnik, but it could not determine with whom Kilimnik went on to share it or why he shared it.
The report also found that there was some evidence to suggest that Kilimnik was involved in the Russian operation to hack and leak Democratic emails — which Weissmann described as “substantial new information.” The section detailing that evidence is largely redacted.
Weissmann went on to note that the Senate report assesses that then-candidate Trump spoke with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks’ plans to release damaging information about Hillary Clinton on “multiple occasions” — despite Trump’s claims in written answers to Mueller that he “did not recall” discussing the topic with Stone.