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 push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks MORE (D-Ill.) says special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE’s findings about contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian agents, as well as President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated 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 LeahyAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions Graham moves controversial asylum bill through panel; Democrats charge he's broken the rules 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 TrumpDick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report House chairman warns foreign governments to 'cease and desist' spending money at Trump properties Chris Cuomo: 'I should be better than the guys baiting me' MORE, campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews MORE and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Trump Jr. dismisses conflicts of interest, touts projects in Indonesia Trump administration releases new 'public charge' rule making it easier to reject immigrants MORE met with a Russian attorney “expecting to receive derogatory information” about Trump’s campaign opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up 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 the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing Rosenstein: Trump should focus on preventing people from 'becoming violent white supremacists' 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.”