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Senate Intelligence Committee finds no collusion between Russia, Trump campaign

Members of President Trump’s 2016 campaign were in frequent contact with individuals linked to the Russian government, raising counterintelligence concerns at the time, but there is no evidence they colluded to influence the election, a Senate report revealed Tuesday.

The findings were detailed in a nearly 1,000-page bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which conducted a three-year probe into Russia’s 2016 election interference.

The GOP-lead committee went slightly further than ex-special counsel Robert Mueller in showing the extent of Russian efforts to connect with the Trump campaign. But the conclusions largely support Mr. Mueller’s findings.

Russia took advantage of the inexperience among members of Mr. Trump’s transition team as well as their desire to rollback Obama-era policies to create “unofficial channels” through which it could connect to the incoming administration.

“The existence of a cadre of informal advisors to the Transition Team with varying levels of access to the President-elect and varying awareness of foreign affairs presented attractive targets for foreign influence, creating notable counterintelligence vulnerabilities,” the committee wrote in the report.

The lack of vetting by the transition team left it open to “influence and manipulation” to foreign intelligence services, the panel wrote.

One area in which the senators go further in the Mueller report is identifying Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian businessman who worked for ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as “a Russian intelligence officer.”

In the Mueller report, Mr. Kilimnik is only alleged “to have ties to Russian intelligence.” He has repeatedly disputed allegations of links to Russian intelligence.

The senators say Manafort’s top-level campaign access and willingness to share information with Mr. Kilimnik represented “a grave counterintelligence threat,” the report said.

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Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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