WASHINGTON—Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif), the past Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence who now hopes to be California’s next Democratic senator, remains unswayed by the newly released Durham Report in his conviction that members of former President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russian intelligence operatives to steal the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton.
When asked by The Epoch Times about the Durham Report’s conclusion of no collusion between Trump and Russia and whether the lawmaker stood by his claims to the contrary, Schiff replied, “If you read Mr. Durham’s report, what he said is that there wasn’t evidence of collusion before they began the investigation. That’s obviously a very important distinction.”
The California Democrat then pointed to what he described as “secret meetings” between Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian intelligence agent. Schiff accused Manafort of “providing that agent with internal polling data with their strategy for key battleground states, while that unit of Russian intelligence was engaged in trying to help Donald Trump win.”
Schiff said that for “most Americans that looks like plain collusion.”
But the Durham Report described the FBI’s top expert on Russian intelligence as finding no such evidence.
“The FBI Intelligence Analyst who had perhaps the most in-depth knowledge of particularly sensitive Russian intelligence information in FBI holdings during the relevant time period disclosed that she never saw anything regarding any Trump election campaign conspiracy with the Russians, nor did she see anything in FBI holdings regarding Carter Page, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, or Paul Manafort engaging in any type of conspiracy with the Russians regarding the election,” the report said.
Manafort was convicted in 2019 on tax and bank fraud charges unrelated to allegations of cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence.
Schiff further claimed that Donald Trump Jr. was closely connected with Russian intelligence.
“But you also had the Russians reaching out through an intermediary to Donald Trump’s son, offering dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government’s effort to help elect Donald Trump. And rather than refuse it, Don Jr. said that [if] it’s what was represented, they would love it,” Schiff told The Epoch Times.
“So the best time for it would be late summer. [They] arranged a secret meeting in the Trump headquarters [and] invited the campaign chairman [and] the president’s son-in-law to receive this help from the Russian government … And most Americans will also call that collusion,” Schiff added.
Trump Jr. appears only once in the 306 page Durham Report, in a lengthy footnote that explained “on June 9, 2016, senior representatives of the campaign met briefly with a private Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others at the Trump Tower.”
The report quoted an FBI document that claimed Veselnitskaya “‘had previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time.’” The initial email to Trump Jr. proposing the meeting said that the Crown prosecutor of Russia was offering to provide the campaign with documents and information that would incriminate Clinton.
The Durham report said the June 9, 2016, meeting lasted only “briefly,” perhaps because, as Schiff suggested, the information allegedly promised did not match the expectations that had been encouraged. Durham found no other information regarding Trump Jr. that merited mention in the report.
Finally, Schiff said former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was involved in the campaign’s collusion.
“Let me just add that the President’s National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn, [was meeting] secretly with the Russian ambassador; they were having conversations secretly with the Russian ambassador to undermine bipartisan sanctions on Russia for its interference in the election. And then lying about it. Most Americans again, [would say] this is collusion,” Schiff said.
The conversations between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak regarding U.S. sanctions, however, took place weeks after Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election and as part of Flynn’s preparation for taking over his White House duties following the inauguration of the new Chief Executive.
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to then-Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Kislyak, but subsequently sought to withdraw his plea. Trump pardoned Flynn shortly after losing his reelection effort in the 2020 campaign.
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