President Donald Trump dropped a bombshell on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election on Friday, revealing there is a direct link between “Crooked Hillary”
The president’s stunning reveal follows a Fox News report that the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner, was in regular contact throughout 2017 with a lobbyist for a Russian powerplayer that was offering Warner access to Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous Steele dossier.
“Steele famously put together the anti-Trump dossier of unverified information that was used by FBI and Justice Department officials in October 2016 to get a warrant to conduct surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page,” Fox News reported. “Despite the efforts, Steele has not agreed to an interview with the committee.”
Trump tweeted —
Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a “paper trail” on a “private” meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame. All tied into Crooked Hillary.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2018
These text messages are significant because of Warner’s high ranking in the Democratic political hierarchy.
Warner is the leader of the congressional investigation into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia — and the entire time, the text messages show he was actively coordinating with a Russian oligarch against the U.S. president.
On Mar. 22, 2017 Warner texted lobbyist Adam Waldman, “We have so much to discuss u need to be careful but we can help our country.”
“I’m in,” Waldman, whose firm has ties to top Russian politicians, texted back to Warner.
The text messages heated up over the course of the week, and Warner seemed very cautious to keep their exchanges secret from the rest of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In one text message, Warner told Waldman he’d “rather not have a paper trail” of their conversations. The messages are all labeled “CONFIDENTIAL” – even though they are not classified.
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Coming to Warner’s defense, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the text messages had been disclosed months ago and weren’t consequential —
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 9, 2018
However, there’s no denying the political optics of the exchange look dreadful for Democrats — and Hillary Clinton, who Trump claimed was tied to the entire exchange. On Mar. 16, 2017, Waldman texted the Democratic senator and said, “Chris Steele asked me to call you.”
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“Will call tomorrow be careful,” Warner replied. They never talked. On Mar. 20 Warner texted Waldman back, “Can you talk tomorrow want to get with ur English friend.”
Waldman responded, “I spoke to him yesterday.” Warner then texted on Mar. 22, “Hey just tried u again gotta give a speech but really want to finish our talk.”
“Waldman, at one point, texted back that Steele really wanted a bi-partisan letter requesting his testimony first. He added that Steele was concerned about word leaking to the media that they were talking,” Fox News reported.
“In one text, Warner suggested he did not want Burr or any other senator included in the discussions: ‘Ok but I wud (sic) like to do prelim call u me and him no one else before letter just so we have to trail to start want to discuss scope first before letter no leaks.'”
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On Mar. 30, Sen. Warner replied, “We want to do this right private in London don’t want to send letter yet cuz if we can’t get agreement wud rather not have paper trail.” And again on Apr. 5, “Any word on Steele.”
“Yes seems to have cold feet from the leaks. Said he wanted a bipartisan letter followed by written questions,” Waldman replied. Later the two discussed traveling to see Steele in a foreign country, because Steele was “spooked.”
“On March 23, Warner texted, ‘Need to coordinate date for trip can u talk with my scheduler also want to discuss Paul,’ an apparent reference to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose initials are used in the next text by Waldman,” Fox News wrote.
After further back-and-forth, including phone calls, Warner said he wanted to speak to Steele directly without anyone else involved. Steele, through Waldman, insisted on a bipartisan letter from the Senate Intelligence Panel inviting his cooperation before he talked.
“Hey can’t we do brief [off the record] call today before letter so I can frame letter,” Warner said on Mar. 29.
“Steele wants to have letter first. Or did you mean call w me?” Waldman texted back.
Warner’s text message exchange was turned over in secret to the Senate Intelligance Committee in June. The panel was informed of the text message exchange in October.
— The Horn editorial team