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Democratic Lawmakers Further Investigate Russia’s Involvement In U.S. Election

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump who has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe as a fruitless "witch hunt," dismissed the sharing of data with Kilimnik as inconsequential. 

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Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves U.S. District Court after a hearing in Washington, May 23, 2018. VOA

Senior Democratic lawmakers called Wednesday for further investigation into a revelation that in 2016 Donald Trump’s then-presidential election campaign chairman gave polling data to a man U.S. prosecutors have linked to Russian intelligence.

On Tuesday, portions of a court filing by lawyers for convicted former Trump campaign head Paul Manafort were inadvertently made public. They showed he shared the data with a business partner and Russian-Ukrainian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik.

Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee’s new Democratic chairman, noted that Schiff had described the revelation as “stunning” to The Washington Post. He referred Reuters to Schiff’s statement that lawmakers on the committee “need to find out” about Manafort’s interaction with Kilimnik on polling data.

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller has charged Manafort and Kilimnik in its investigation of Russian interference in the election and whether Trump campaign members coordinated with Moscow officials. Trump denies any campaign collusion with Russia.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), left, speaks to the media about national security as North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, right, listens, in Greensboro, N.C., Sept. 26, 2014. V

 

Warner’s call

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been conducting a bipartisan investigation into Russian election meddling, also called for further probing of the matter.

“If accurate, this is damning evidence of a senior Trump campaign official providing information to individuals tied to Russian intelligence at the height of the Kremlin’s effort to undermine our election,” Warner said.

There is no evidence that Trump was aware that Manafort was sharing the data with Kilimnik, who was described by Mueller in court documents last year as having “ties to a Russian intelligence service.”

Rep. Jackie Speier of California, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the revelations raised new questions about possible “collusion” between Trump’s election team and Russia.

“It’s a significant revelation that further makes the case for cooperation between the president’s team and Russia on steering the outcome of the 2016 election,” Speier told Reuters.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2017. VOA

Tuesday’s court filing was submitted by Manafort’s lawyers in response to allegations that their client had lied repeatedly to Mueller, breaching a plea deal under which Manafort agreed to assist Mueller’s probe.

Because of a formatting error, the redacted portions of the filing as initially submitted could be electronically reversed, and an uncensored version was circulated by journalists and others on the Internet. It was later replaced with a properly redacted version.

‘Ukrainian peace plan’

In addition to the polling data revelation, the filing also showed that Mueller believes Manafort lied to prosecutors about his discussions with Kilimnik about a “Ukrainian peace plan” and a previously undisclosed meeting between Manafort and Kilimnik in Madrid. Manafort’s lawyers said any incorrect statements by him were unintentional.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former Trump campaign aide told Reuters that he was unaware Manafort had shared data with Kilimnik and found the news “disturbing” and especially problematic because the data were provided to a foreign national.

Also Read: The Senate Judiciary Committee is Renewing Its Attempt To Protect Special Counselor Robert Muller

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump who has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe as a fruitless “witch hunt,” dismissed the sharing of data with Kilimnik as inconsequential.

“It’s not a crime to talk to a Russian,” Giuliani said. “They are searching for what doesn’t exist. The president did not conspire with the Russians.”

Giuliani also said Wednesday that Trump’s legal team told Mueller that the president will not answer any more questions in the investigation. (VOA)

Next Story

Trump Defends Kim, Downplays Concern About North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump and his national security adviser are publicly at odds about the seriousness of the threat

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump upon his arrival at Mobara Country Club in Mobara, Chiba prefecture, Japan, May 26, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump and his national security adviser are publicly at odds about the seriousness of the threat currently posed by North Korea.

In a Sunday morning tweet from Tokyo, Trump issued a retort to John Bolton who the previous day here had told reporters that there was “no doubt” North Korea’s recent test firing of short-range ballistic missiles violated a United Nations resolution.

Bolton’s remark was the first by a U.S. official describing the North Korean launches as a violation of U.N. resolutions.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons which disturbed some of my people and others, but not me,” said Trump in his tweet.

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U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un meet during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Feb. 28, 2019. VOA

But some analysts say the missile launches are indeed a concern.

“It’s pretty clear the missile launch was a violation of U.N. sanctions, whatever the range. The reality is that U.S. forces and civilians in South Korea and Japan are already in range of North Koreans missiles, so accepting shorter or mid-range missiles puts the United States at risk, not to mention our allies Japan and the Republic of Korea,” Kevin Maher, a Washington security consultant and a former head of the State Department’s Office of Japan Affairs, told VOA. “These realities are inconvenient if the objective is to show a personal relationship with the dictator Kim Jong Un will stop North Korea’s continuing nuclear and missile programs.”

The U.S. president also expressed confidence the North Korean leader “will keep his promise to me” in moving toward denuclearization.

In the tweet, Trump also said he smiled when Kim called former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden “a low IQ individual.”

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The initial presidential tweet misspelled the Democratic Party presidential contender’s name as “Bidan” and was later replaced. And it was not Kim who made the disparaging remark about Biden, rather an unsigned commentary carried by North Korea’s central news agency, which referred to the American politician as a “fool of low IQ” and an “imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being.”

Trump concluded his tweet by stating that perhaps Kim was trying “to send me a signal” — apparently a reference that the leader in Pyongyang prefers to negotiate with the current American president over the opposition party’s top-polling contender.

Trump and Kim have held two summits, in Singapore and Hanoi. Neither has led to any significant breakthroughs, although the meetings were seen as reducing tensions between the two countries, which have no diplomatic relations and whose leaders had never met before.

The United States and North Korea were belligerents in a three-year war in the early 1950s that devastated the Korean Peninsula. It ended with an armistice, but no peace treaty has ever been signed.

Bolton comment

Bolton, who 13 months ago replaced retired Army General H.R. McMaster as the president’s national security adviser, is known as a hardliner who distrusts Pyongyang’s intentions.

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe play golf at Mobara Country Club in Mobara, Chiba prefecture, Japan May 26, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. VOA

North Korea has a long track record of violating international agreements and has repeatedly defied U.N. sanctions against its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Trump fired off his tweet shortly before taking a helicopter from Tokyo to the Mobara Country Club in nearby Chiba prefecture.

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Japanese Prime Minister Abe, dressed in a blue blazer and white pants, rolled up in a golf cart to meet Trump, who was wearing a red jacket and carrying a red hat in his hand.

After some hours on the golf course, the two leaders viewed bouts of sumo before the U.S. president awarded the large and heavy President’s Cup (quickly nicknamed the Trump Cup’) to champion Asanoyama, a 177-kilogram (390-pound) wrestler who clinched the Summer Grand Tournament the previous day.

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U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to present the President’s Cup to wrestler Asanoyama, the winner of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokigikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, May 26, 2019.U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to present the President’s Cup to wrestler Asanoyama, the winner of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokigikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, May 26, 2019. VOA

“That was an incredible evening at sumo,” Trump told reporters as he and first lady Melania Trump joined Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe for dinner at a Tokyo restaurant where the food is served on long paddles. Trump said he personally “bought that beautiful trophy, which you’ll have hopefully for many hundreds of years.”

Trump on Monday meets Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, who hosts a state dinner for the visiting president that evening. In between, Trump holds a formal meeting with Abe in which they are expected to discuss trade and defense matters.

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No quick breakthrough on trade is expected, although both leaders have expressed a desire for a bilateral trade pact after Trump pulled the United States out of the comprehensive 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership, which Tokyo had spearheaded with Washington under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

Following the golf outing, Trump tweeted that no trade deal would be made until after July’s elections for some of the seats in the upper house of Japan’s Diet (parliament).

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U.S. President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, receives a plate of food from a chef as they and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe have dinner in Tokyo, May 26, 2019. VOA

Later at dinner, the president said, “the prime minister and I talked a lot today about trade and military and various others things. I think we had a very productive day.”

Before Trump departs Japan on Tuesday, he is to visit the naval base at Yokosuka to tour a Japanese helicopter carrier and address American service personnel in conjunction with the U.S. Memorial Day holiday (observed Monday). (VOA)