Durbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling'

Durbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling'
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities MORE (D-Ill.) says special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE’s findings about contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian agents, as well as President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE’s efforts to impede Mueller’s investigation, are “troubling.”

“The Special Counsel’s findings paint a very different picture than what the President and his Attorney General would have the American people believe,” Durbin said in a statement Thursday following the Mueller report’s release.

“Special Counsel Mueller has provided a detailed and sobering report about the troubling contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians and about the President’s efforts to impede and end the Special Counsel’s investigation,” he said. 

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Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined other Democrats in calling for Mueller to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary committees.  

Mueller found that Russian officials reached out to Trump’s campaign on several occasions with pledges of assistance, although they sometimes didn’t follow through or campaign officials were unaware they were dealing with Russian agents. 

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (Vt.), another senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said “members of the Trump campaign were not simply useful pawns in Russia’s attack on our elections.”

“They were eager, unapologetic beneficiaries of Russia’s interference. They welcomed it. They encouraged the release of stolen materials and planned a press strategy around it. They not once reported it to law enforcement authorities. Then they misrepresented the facts and hid their actions from the American people,” Leahy said in a statement.

The highest-profile interaction came on June 9, 2016, when senior representatives of the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr. slams Republican committee chairman: 'Too weak to stand up to the Democrats' #TrumpTantrum spreads on Twitter after impromptu press conference Trump family members will join state visit to UK MORE, campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Ex-GOP lawmaker says Trump 'illegitimate president,' should be impeached Government moves to seize Manafort's condo in Trump Tower MORE and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerNational commission needed to monitor and combat anti-Semitism Trump pushing for GOP donor's company to get border wall contract: report Trump family members will join state visit to UK MORE met with a Russian attorney “expecting to receive derogatory information” about Trump’s campaign opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE

The attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, however, failed to provide any evidence backing up her claims that Clinton and other Democrats had received funds from illegal activity in Russia and instead talked about U.S. sanctions against Russian officials. 

On July 27, 2016, then-candidate Trump publicly called on Russia to help find documents missing from Clinton’s personal computer server, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Russian military hackers that same day targeted the email accounts of Clinton’s personal office. They also broke into a Democratic National Committee account hosted on the cloud.

Mueller reported that Russian agents working for the GRU, a military intelligence agency, contacted a former Trump campaign member while posing as the hacker Guccifer 2.0 to ask about a stolen Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee document, which the Trump official described in a response as “pretty standard.” 

The special counsel also found that on June 17, 2017, Trump called then-White House counsel Don McGahn and instructed him to call acting Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWhy Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill Jake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general MORE and inform him that Mueller must be removed from his post for conflicts of interest. McGahn refused by saying he would rather resign than trigger a “potential Saturday Night Massacre.”