Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats Issue Preliminary Findings on June 9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting – May 16 2018

On May 16 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic members issue “Preliminary Findings About Trump Campaign’s Effort to Obtain Incriminating Information on Secretary Clinton from Russia at Trump Tower Meeting.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats Issue Preliminary Findings on June 9. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin caricature cartoon APT

The document states;
In its limited investigation so far, the Committee has found evidence of multiple contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials or their intermediaries, including offers of assistance and purported overtures from Vladimir Putin, which warrant further investigation. The transcripts released today represent Committee interviews with just five of the eight participants in one such meeting—the June 9, 2016, meeting between top Trump campaign officials and Russians offering incriminating information on the campaign’s opponent.

As discussed in more detail below, the Trump campaign accepted this offer of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton],” which was also described as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Top campaign officials Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr. did not reject the offer of election assistance from a hostile foreign government. Nor did they report this offer to law enforcement authorities. Instead, they attended the meeting. Afterwards, Donald Trump Jr. issued misleading statements, with assistance from the WhiteHouse, that concealed the meeting’s true purpose.

Trump Campaign’s Use of Social Media

Through a coordinated network of fake accounts posing as Americans, as well as

Russian bots, the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA) conducted “information warfare” against the United States during the 2016 election. The Committee received from Facebook examples of the social media campaign orchestrated by the IRA. Those ads sought to sow discord and amplify racial and social divisions among American voters. They exploited hot-button topics such as immigration, gun rights, LGBT, and racial issues to target both conservative and progressive audiences. The ads that were candidate-specific were overwhelmingly anti-Clinton.

Russia’s Connection to the National Rifle Association

The Committee has obtained a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign. Two individuals involved in this effort appear to be Russian nationals Alexander Torshin and Maria Butina. Mr. Torshin is a Putin ally and the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia, and Ms. Butina served as his assistant. She also founded Right to Bear Arms, the Russian equivalent of the NRA, and started a business with former Trump supporter and adviser Paul Erickson.126 Both Mr. Torshin and Ms. Butina have longstanding ties to ex-NRA president, David Keene, and in 2013, hosted him in Russia for a pro-gun conference. During the campaign, Mr. Torshin, Ms. Butina, and their intermediaries repeatedly offered the campaign back channels to Russia and relayed requests from President Putin to meet with Mr. Trump. The Kremlin may also have used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign.128 The extent of Russia’s use of the NRA as an avenue for connecting with and potentially supporting the Trump campaign needs examination. Requests for documents and staff interviews have been sent to Ms. Butina,

Mr. Erickson, and Mr. Keene, but they have refused to cooperate.

Efforts to Mislead the Public

The Trump campaign, transition team, and Administration have repeatedly denied any contacts with Russian interests, despite the clear existence of such contacts. President Trump and his associates have also made misleading statements. In an attempt to determine the extent of these misleading statements, why they were made, and who authorized them, requests for interviews and documents have been sent to Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, and Mark Corallo, all of whom have declined to cooperate. Notably, these and other efforts to mislead the public are also potentially relevant to whether Mr. Trump or his associates have obstructed justice related to the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Ranking Member has made several requests for information on this topic. Unfortunately, witnesses have refused to cooperate with the majority of these requests and, while this remains a critical issue for the Committee to explore, it is not covered in this interim report.

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