House probe ignored most Trump-Russia contacts, report claims

CAP also found that in another 21 percent of the known contacts with specific individuals, pleas from House Democrats to call back witnesses, including those who refused to answer questions, were rejected.

These include longtime Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner; Donald Trump Jr., and Erik Prince, a Trump supporter and founder of the Blackwater security firm.

Democrats say the committee’s refusal to dig more thoroughly into Trump associates’ dealings with Russia has emboldened the president to take a more aggressive posture towards Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s Russia ties. Over the weekend, Trump began to target Mueller by name on Twitter.

According to a recent status report by the House Intelligence Committee Democrats, more than 30 key witnesses have not been interviewed. These include personnel and contractors from the campaign’s digital operations, including Cambridge Analytica.

Particularly glaring oversights, according to the CAP report, include not asking Trump attorney Cohen for documents about a proposed 2016 Trump Tower deal in Moscow and not calling Kushner back for more information about a June 9th meeting at Trump Tower in New York with Russians, including attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and a former Soviet counterintelligence officer and lobbyist. An email showed Don Trump Jr. eager to attend that meeting, where he hoped to receive information that could incriminate Hillary Clinton.

 A man walks into the Center for American Progress at their office on Feb. 21, 2018 in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

Committee Democrats also wanted to hear from Sessions on his conversations with Trump about the Russia investigations. They say Erik Prince and another longtime Trump friend, Roger Stone, may have lied to the committee about their interactions with Russians in the Seychelles and with Wikileaks, respectively.

Days after the House Intelligence Committee announced its findings, the New York Times reported on a secret meeting in the Seychelles between Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back channel to the Kremlin.

While Democrats say they wanted more information from several witnesses as part of the committee probe, it is impossible to say for certain what information the committee did and did not obtain, given that there is not public access to the transcripts themselves.

While many of the individual meetings have been exhaustively covered by news organizations, the CAP report shows the interactions were regular (often with little more than days separating them) and it highlights some actors such as Ivan Timofeev, who claimed connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The interactions documented in the report begin with a January, 2016 email from Trump’s personal lawyer Cohen to Vladimir Putin’s top spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, about a stalled attempt to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow.

In March there were meetings between George Papadopoulos, whose actions prompted the start of an FBI probe, and both Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic alleged to have high-level connections to the Kremlin, and a female Russian national believed to be Putin’s relative.

The report also highlights that, following the now infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, Papadopoulos had “several email and Skype exchanges” with Timofeev, who suggested a campaign official come to Russia for a meeting.

A month later, in July, Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, traveled to Moscow to give a speech. There he met with Andrey Baranov, head of investor relations at Rosneft and spoke to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

In August, Stone was in touch with Guccifer 2.0, which worked with Wikileaks to release thousands of stolen Clinton campaign emails during the election, and Manafort was corresponding with Konstantin Kiliminik, a Russian-Ukrainian political operative and former member of Russian intelligence.