The declaration that Donald Trump’s onetime campaign manager employed a Russian intelligence officer was the headline-grabbing finding of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s fifth and final Russian interference report, released Aug. 18 at the time of the Democratic National Convention.
According to the report, Paul Manafort’s 2016 interactions with his longtime associate, Ukraine-born Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, “represent the single most direct tie between senior Trump Campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services,” and amounted to “a grave counterintelligence threat” to the United States.
To hear Trump-Russia conspiracy advocates tell it, Kilimnik was the elusive missing link that proved the Trump campaign’s complicity in Russian electoral interference. “Manafort, while he was chairman of the Trump campaign, was secretly communicating with a Russian intelligence officer with whom he discussed campaign strategy and repeatedly shared internal campaign polling data,” five of the committee’s Democratic members wrote in a pointed addendum. “This is what collusion looks like.”
But the plain text of the Senate report contains no concrete evidence to support its conclusions. Instead, with a heavy dose of caveats and innuendo, reminiscent of much of the torrent of investigative verbiage in the Russiagate affair, the report goes to great lengths to cast a pall of suspicion around Kilimnik, much of which is either unsupported or contradicted by publicly available information.
Source: Aaron Maté, realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2020/09/21/analysis_that_senate_collusion_report_has_no_smoking_gun__but_it_does_have_a_fog_machine_125229.html