More Evidence Of Russian Interference In 2016 And 2018 Elections
While most of the focus on the congressional testimony by the intelligence chiefs focused on their outright contradictions of the President’s statements on a whole host of national security issues, perhaps the most interesting and odd part of it was the discussion about why the report from Office of the Director of National Intelligence on any 2018 election interference had not been shared with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Both DNI Coats and FBI Director Wray both danced around the reasons why the report had not been shared with the full committee. However, Chairman Burr made the rather startling admission that both he and Vice Chairman Warner had been fully briefed on the report’s details. This implies that the report is sensitive enough that it could only be shared with the ranking members on the committee or perhaps even the Gang of Eight.
Coats also hinted that part of the delay in briefing the full committee was that the DOJ was considering certain actions based on the information in that report and also suggested that the executive branch might fight the full release to the entire committee, an action usually reserved for covert activities . This degree of secrecy implies that the Russian election interference in 2018 was perhaps far more significant than anyone imagines. This leads emptywheel to wonder, “Maybe the Russians did have an effect on the [midterm] election?”. And leads me to speculate whether the Russians were funneling money and/or information to congressional Republicans during the 2018 election. After all, there is substantial evidence that some down-ballot Republicans were aided in a similar fashion in 2016.
Meanwhile, information about election interference and collusion in the 2016 election keeps on emerging. Josh Kovensky at TPM lays out a pretty damning timeline regarding the release of the Podesta emails in the hours after the release of the Access Hollywood tapes. Although Kovensky relies on known liar and fabulist Jerome Corsi, other elements are backed up by details in Roger Stone’s recent indictment.
Around 11am on Friday, October 7, 2016, David Fahrenthold received a copy of the Access Hollywood tape and immediately reached out to the Trump campaign and NBC for comment. According to phone records, Stone and Corsi had a call at 11:30am and Corsi additionally claims he had multiple calls with Stone over the next few hours. In the weeks prior, Stone had already become aware that Wikileaks had the Podesta emails and was pressuring for them to be released. Now, apparently having been made aware within thirty minutes of the impending release of the Access tape, Stone pushed even harder. According to Corsi, “I recall Roger telling me that the Billy Bush tape was going to be that day and Roger was saying to me, ‘if you have any way to get Assange to start dropping, tell him to start dumping'”. How Stone became aware of the imminent release of the “Billy Bush tape” is still unknown but it could only have come from one of three sources – the Trump campaign, NBC, the Washington Post. The most obvious answer is, of course, the Trump campaign.
Corsi is then reported to have contacted London-based conservative Ted Malloch in London and, lo and behold, Wikileaks began to dump the Podesta email just a few hours later. Malloch was subpoenaed and testified to the Mueller grand jury late last spring. The recent indictments against Roger Stone, allege that Stone repeatedly bragged about his role in getting the Podesta emails release and, according to Corsi, the Special Counsel’s office presented him with an email exchange between him and Stone where Stone expressed satisfaction at getting Wikileaks to dump the emails “as instructed”. In addition, the indictments against Stone include an email from Steve Bannon to Stone immediately after the Wikileaks drop which simply states “well done”.
Assuming you believe Corsi’s version of events, some of which is now backed up by evidence from the recent Stone indictment, the timeline here is clear. The Trump campaign is notified the Access Hollywood tape is about to drop. Within minutes, Stone is instructed to contact Wikileaks and have the Podesta emails immediately released. Stone gets Corsi to contact Malloch who passes the message on to Assange. After the Podesta emails are released, Bannon congratulates Stone with a “well done”.
We are approaching two and half years since our elected leaders were made aware that the Russians were interfering in our electoral process. Yet, the American people still do not have a clear and definitive explanation of what exactly happened in 2016 and now, it appears, that the interference in the 2018 election may have been far greater than the American people have been led to believe. The time for congressional public hearings is long overdue. The time for Democrats to act is now.