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 TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default 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.”
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.
The notion I communicated with Trump Jr is laughable. This whole thing is an obvious smear designed to generate a fake news feeding frenzy.— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 21, 2017
“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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing 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 Senate Judiciary Committee has requested documents from Don Jr. and Manafort re: any attempts to obtain info on Clinton from Russians. pic.twitter.com/TOZlDr5pc6— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 19, 2017
The letter asks for the documents by Aug. 2.