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Jill Stein looped into widening investigation of Russia and Trump Jr. connections

Third party candidate Jill Stein was a surprising addition this week to investigators casting an increasingly wide net in the congressional probe into Russian interference in the presidential campaign.

Stein’s name was included in a Senate Judiciary Committee letter requesting all communication between President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE’s son Donald Trump Jr. and a number of others, including Russian officials and other members of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Stein ran for president as the Green Party candidate in 2016. A Green Party spokesman called the inclusion of her name “vengeance against Dr. Stein for running as a third-party candidate for the White House.”

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The Senate panel wants documents relating to a recently revealed meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian attorney, among others. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were also at the meeting.

But investigators seem to be casting a wider net by asking Trump Jr. for “all communication to, from or copied to you relating to” a long list of individuals that include Stein.

Stein called the request “laughable” in a tweet this week.

“The whole thing is an obvious smear,” she wrote.

“Smears against the Green Party for participating in elections are nothing new, but raising the smears to the level of McCarthyism is a recent wrinkle,” Scott McLarty, media director for the Green Party, told The Hill.

The only known connection between Stein and the investigation into Russian officials is a dinner she attended in 2015 where former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin were both present. Stein has said her interaction was minimal.

Flynn resigned in February after misleading Vice President Pence regarding conversations he had with a top Russian diplomat during the presidential campaign. The dinner came out as part of those revelations. 

The Senate panel is investigating both Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Flynn is part of that investigation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the office of its chairman, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law MORE’s (R-Iowa), did not respond to a request to clarify their inclusion of Stein in the request for communication from Trump Jr.

“We expect that you have already taken care to preserve relevant documents in light of investigations into Russian interference being conducted by Congress and federal law enforcement and counterintelligence agencies,” the leadership of the committee wrote in the letter dated July 19.

The letter asks for the documents by Aug. 2.