House Intelligence Committee Republicans deliberately ignored the obvious

Its amazing how hard it is to find something when you are not looking for it — if, in fact, you are trying to hide it. After spending the last year pretending to investigate connections between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee ended the charade on Monday by announcing that there was no evidence of collusion. Even more incredibly, the GOP majority said there was no evidence that the Russians had been trying to elect President Trump — an assertion contradicted by the U.S. intelligence community and a federal grand jury that indicted 13 Russians for alleged involvement in this operation.

How did the Republicans miss what is evident to everyone else? By shutting their eyes and closing their ears. As Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat, noted, the Republicans didnt compel testimony from important witnesses and didnt subpoena important records. The Republicans were engaged not in an investigation but a coverup. They sought to exonerate Trump and smear the FBI and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Chairman Devin Nunes (R.-Calif.) made himself a laughingstock by claiming there was a deep-state conspiracy against the president.

What might the Republicans have found if they were interested in looking? (A shocking idea, I know.) Its impossible to say for sure, but the public record, summarized by The Posts Philip Bump, provides compelling, if circumstantial, evidence of collusion.

I think its pretty obvious that theyre looking into this, especially because – and this is the issue – besides the LLC, you have now this $130,000 payment that was made after the election from campaign to Trump org, so it just seems a little suspect, Nunberg explained. 

Former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now a cooperating witness, said that on or about April 26, 2016, he learned from a professor close to the Kremlin that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. Papadopoulos relayed to the campaign offers of Russian cooperation.

President Trumps personal lawyer Michael Cohen has made a handful of statements trying to push the idea that no campaign finance laws were broken when he made a payment to Daniels, a porn star, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

On June 9, 2016, the entire high command of the Trump campaign, including Paul Manafort (himself linked financially to the Russian oligarchy), Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, met at Trump Tower with a lawyer from Moscow promising to incriminate Clinton. Six days later, Democratic National Committee documents stolen by Russian hackers began surfacing on the Web via a hacker named Guccifer 2.0. Early in July, Trump staffers removed language from the GOP platform calling for arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. On July 22, the eve of the Democratic convention, WikiLeaks begins releasing stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee.

President Trumps former campaign aide Sam Nunberg said on MSNBC that he was asked if he had ever heard about payments being made to women when he sat down with the FBI for a voluntary interview as part of Special Counsel Robert Muellers probe 

On July 27, Trump publicly asked the Kremlin to release Clintons emails. On Aug. 21, Trump confidant Roger Stone tweeted: Trust me, it will soon [be] Podestas time in the barrel, referring to John Podesta, the chairman of Clintons campaign. On Oct. 7, shortly after the release of the blockbuster video in which Trump brags about groping women, WikiLeaks began posting Podestas stolen emails. We now know that Donald Trump Jr. communicated with WikiLeaks, and Stone with Guccifer 2.0 and possibly WikiLeaks, too.

MSNBCs Ari Melber (left) asked if investigators posed questions about payments to women when talking to former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg (right). Nunberg said the answer was yet, but not when he was talking to a grand jury on Friday 

10 Things to Know for Today

During the last month of the campaign, Trump mentioned WikiLeaks 141 times, while denying that Russia was behind the hacks. The Kremlin, meanwhile, undertook a massive propaganda blitz for Trump that reached 126 million Americans via Facebook alone.

After Trump won, his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, held secret conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he later lied about to the FBI. The two men talked, in particular, after President Barack Obama announced sanctions on Dec. 28 to punish Moscow for its meddling. Putin did not retaliate and Trump praised his forbearance, suggesting a quid pro quo.

The money was given to Daniels in exchange for her signing of a non-disclosure agreement, as shes alleged that she had a sexual relationship with Trump from 2006, when they met at a Nevada golf tournament, through 2007. 

Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg says special counsel asked him whether president made illicit payments to women

This very short, very incomplete summary can only hint at the connections between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. There is much more we do not know but that Mueller does. For instance, a recent New Yorker article on the Steele dossier noted that during the campaign the head of GCHQ, Britains signals intelligence agency, briefed the CIA director on a stream of illicit communications between Trumps team and Moscow that had been intercepted. (The content of these intercepts has not become public.)

It is hard to imagine an innocent explanation for such contacts — or for all the lying that Trump officials have done about them. It is harder still to imagine that Trump was unaware of what his team was up to. He was, after all, personally involved in putting out a false statement that the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower was about adoptions. The fact that Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey over the Russia thing and has attacked Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein for the same reason, is also highly suggestive. As is the fact that he still refuses to retaliate for the Russian attack on America.

Nunberg, who worked under Trumps longtime political adviser Roger Stone, lasted at the presidential campaign for under two months, getting fired in August 2015 after his racist Facebook posts were exposed.

Muellers new fishing hole: Conspiracy to defraud the government

Imagine what Republican lawmakers would have said if this case had involved Hillary Clinton. Charges of treason would fill the air. But because its Trump, they put party above patriotism. When Mueller comes out with the real story, the dishonor, disgrace and degradation of the Republicans will be complete.

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is a key figure lawmakers and federal investigators want to speak with in their Russia probe. Why and who is the longtime political operative?

The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone, Cohen said in a statement referring to Daniels by her real name, Stephanie Clifford. 

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trumps former campaign chairman, has pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Muellers team.

On Friday, Nunberg testified before a grand jury – something he originally said he wouldnt do while giving a dramatic set of television interviews last Monday – for four and a half hours.

Manafort has been the subject of a long-running investigation over his dealings in Ukraine several years ago – for which he didnt file as a foreign agent until June 2017. But Mueller has incorporated that investigation into his own probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for President Trump, departs after a bond hearing as part of Special Counsel Robert Muellers ongoing Russia investigation, at a U.S. District Court in Washington.  (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

A GOP operative who worked for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Manafort reportedly began his work in Republican politics in the 1970s.

Eventually, Manafort was hired by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a controversial pro-Russia politician who was ousted from power twice. After Yanukovych was elected president in 2010, Manafort reportedly stayed on as an adviser and worked on other projects in Eastern Europe, including the Party of Regions political party.

Manafort also worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In 2005, Manafort allegedly came up with a plan to influence U.S. politics, business dealings and the media in order to greatly benefit the Putin government, according to The Associated Press.

In the linked column, McCarthy reviewed Rosenstein’s remarks to Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday addressing the premise of Mueller’s investigation. McCarthy searched in vain for anything like a lawful predicate.

Deripaska is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and signed a $10 million annual contract with Manafort in 2006; they maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.

Financial records obtained by The New York Times indicated that Manafort was in debt to pro-Russian interests by up to $17 million prior to joining Trumps campaign.

He also took more than a dozen trips to Moscow and frequently talked to Putin allies over a period of about 10 years, McClatchy reported. He traveled to Kiev at least 19 times in 20 months after the February 2014 removal of Ukraines pro-Russia leader.

Manafort joined Trumps presidential campaign in March 2016 to help wrangle delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention in Ohio, something hed done for former President Gerald Ford.

Just two months later, Manafort became Trumps campaign chairman. 

Manaforts resignation from the campaign was announced on August 19, 2016, after The Times reported that hed received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovychs pro-Russian party between 2007 and 2012.

Along with Donald Jr., Trumps eldest son, Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016. She reportedly was said to have damaging information on Trumps campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, which was "part of Russia and its governments support for Mr. Trump."

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, one focus of Special Counsel Robert Muellers investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, hides behind a car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Va., after being asked to surrender to federal authorities.  (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Along with his former business associate Rick Gates, Manafort was initially indicted in October on multiple counts that included: conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, false statements and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Nearly four months later, on Feb. 22, the pair were hit with additional tax evasion and bank fraud charges. The additional charges involve much of the same conduct Manafort and Gates were initially charged with, but the amount of money Manafort is accused of laundering through offshore accounts increased to $30 million.

Manafort and Gates initially pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, Gates eventually pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges on Feb. 23. After the plea, Mueller moved to drop the 22 bank and tax fraud charges against Gates, possibly suggesting that the former Trump campaign official is cooperating and providing good information to Muellers team. 

Mueller also accused Manafort of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.

The charges against Manafort and Gates dont relate to allegations of misconduct during Trumps campaign.

Mueller pleaded not guilty on Feb. 28 to five counts from a new round of charges in Muellers probe. And on March 8, Manafort pleaded not guilty again to charges including tax evasion and bank fraud in a Virginia federal court. 

A federal judge assigned to the latest indictment from Mueller said in March that Manafort "faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison." 

The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was "no collusion" and events mentioned took place long before he…

….came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!

Manaforts alleged actions took place before he joined the Trump campaign, the president said on social media.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also downplayed Manaforts involvement with the campaign in a press briefing. 

Fox News Samuel Chamberlain, Jennifer Earl, Jake Gibson, Zoe Szathmary and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

Posted in World