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Republican-Led Senate Intel Report Says Russia’s 2016 Meddling was ‘Grave’

Will the bipartisan nature of these findings turn the GOP on Trump?

It has been nearly 4 years since we were in the thick of the Robert Mueller-helmed investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and there are still a great deal of questions left to be answered.

Mueller himself concluded that he would not be charging President Trump with any crime in the matter, seemingly leaving the door open for Congress to continue the investigation and determine their own course of action.  Many in America saw this as a bit of a cop-out, throwing the entire Russia “collusion” conspiracy theory back to Capitol Hill when Mueller’s independence from politics was the real selling point of bringing him in.

Alas, Congress has continued their investigations, and now a bipartisan report coming from the Senate, which is lead by Republicans, seems to indicate that something foul was afoot during 2016. 

The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave” counterintelligence threat, a Senate panel concluded Tuesday as it detailed how associates of Donald Trump had regular contact with Russians and expected to benefit from the Kremlin’s help.

The nearly 1,000-page report, the fifth and final one from the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee on the Russia investigation, details how Russia launched an aggressive effort to interfere in the election on Trump’s behalf. It says the Trump campaign chairman had regular contact with a Russian intelligence officer and that other Trump associates were eager to exploit the Kremlin’s aid, particularly by maximizing the impact of the disclosure of Democratic emails hacked by Russian intelligence officers.

The report is the culmination of a bipartisan probe that produced what the committee called “the most comprehensive description to date of Russia’s activities and the threat they posed.” The investigation spanned more than three years as the panel’s leaders said they wanted to thoroughly document the unprecedented attack on U.S. elections.

There were some pretty alarming claims made at the conclusion of the bipartisan probe.

Among the more striking sections of the report is the committee’s description of the close, professional relationship between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the committee describes as a Russian intelligence officer.

“Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik, represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” the report says.

The report notes how Manafort shared internal Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik and says there is “some evidence” Kilimnik may have been connected to Russia’s effort to hack and leak Democratic emails, though that information is redacted. The report also says “two pieces of information” raise the possibility of Manafort’s potential connection to those operations, but what follows is again blacked out.

This certainly appears to fly in the face of previous GOP talking points, and leads us to wonder if the Republican Party’s long-held defense of Donald Trump in these matters will hold up to these latest conclusions.

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