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Senate report describes closer ties between 2016 Trump campaign, Russia

A Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday detailed significant ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, particularly with former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump preparing another 100 pardons, commutations before leaving office: reports No pardon for Trump Michael Cohen predicts people Trump pardoned may testify against him MORE.

The fifth volume of the panel's much anticipated report, which is more than 950 pages long, examined "Counterintelligence Threats and Vulnerabilities” during the high-profile election race and marks the end to a sprawling investigation that began in January 2017.

Among the probe's newest revelations is that Konstantin V. Kilimnik, an associate of Manafort's, was a "Russian intelligence officer." Manafort's contacts also posed a “grave counterintelligence threat,” according to the report.

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"Manafort hired and worked increasingly closely with a Russian national, Konstantin KilimnikKonstantin KilimnikPutin is no ordinary threat to America The Hill's Morning Report - Jill Biden urges country to embrace her husband Five takeaways from final Senate Intel Russia report MORE. Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer," reads the report.

The Senate committee said it also obtained information that suggested Kilimnik was possibly connected to the Russian intelligence service's 2016 hack and leak operation.

"Manafort worked with Kilimnik starting in 2016 on narratives that sought to undermine evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election," the report added.

Manafort was sentenced to a total of 7 1/2 years in prison in 2019 after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges and being convicted on charges related to his foreign lobbying efforts that were uncovered in the course of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's investigation into Russia's election interference and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The Senate Intelligence Committee said it interviewed more than 200 witnesses and reviewed more than 1 million pages of documents to examine the questions of Russia's efforts to sow discord, the U.S. government's response to Moscow, the intelligence community's handling of the threat and counterintelligence threats.

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"No probe into this matter has been more exhaustive," said acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFlorida Republicans close ranks with Trump after Capitol siege Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Fla.) in a statement Tuesday.

"At nearly 1,000 pages, Volume 5 stands as the most comprehensive examination of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign to date — a breathtaking level of contacts between Trump officials and Russian government operatives that is a very real counterintelligence threat to our elections," Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSocial media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed MORE (D-Va.), the panel's vice chairman, added in a statement.

The committee's findings are a more in-depth look at the interference than Mueller's investigation, but the findings run parallel to the conclusions of Mueller's probe, which found overwhelming evidence of Russia's efforts to interfere in the election through disinformation and cyber campaigns but a lack of sufficient evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin to impact the outcome of the 2016 election.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOfficials discussing 25th Amendment for Trump following violence at Capitol GOP senator says Trump 'bears responsibility' for Capitol riot Republican infighting on election intensifies MORE (R-N.C.) and Warner, the top Republican and Democrat on the committee, respectively, spearheaded the probe until one day before the committee made its classification announcement of the final volume, when Burr announced that he was temporarily stepping aside as chairman of the Senate panel amid a federal investigation into stock trades that he made at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rubio was tapped to take the chairman role in the interim.

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The conclusion of the Senate committee’s probe comes as security officials and experts are warning that Russia will likely seek to interfere in the upcoming presidential election — as well as other countries. And the panel says these reports provide guidance on how to protect campaigns and elections heading into 2020.

“Now, as we head towards the 2020 elections, China and Iran have joined Russia in attempts to disrupt our democracy, exacerbate societal divisions, and sow doubts about the legitimacy and integrity of our institutions, our electoral process and our republic," Rubio said. "The Committee’s five reports detail the signs and symptoms of that interference and show us how to protect campaigns, state and local entities, our public discourse, and our democratic institutions."

Updated at 11:28 a.m.