The Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the 2016 election has not turned out to be solely focused on alleged misdeeds by some members of Trump’s campaign. Grassley is looking at the use of FISA warrants in the surveillance of the Trump campaign and of members of Congress and he’s also asked some very tough questions about the links between Fusion GPS, the company that produced the ‘Trump dossier,’ and Russia and how a lawyer with major connections to the Kremlin was able to get a visa to the US after having been denied one. Now, he’s asking questions about collusion between a campaign and a foreign power…that would be a campaign not involving Trump. Grassley has sent this letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:
According to news reports, during the 2016 presidential election, “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump” and did so by “disseminat[ing] documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter…” Ukrainian officials also reportedly “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.” At the center of this plan was Alexandra Chalupa, described by reports as a Ukrainian-American operative “who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee” and reportedly met with Ukrainian officials during the presidential election for the express purpose of exposing alleged ties between then-candidate Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and Russia. Politico also reported on a Financial Times story that quoted a Ukrainian legislator, Serhiy Leschenko, saying that Trump’s candidacy caused “Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they would never have attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a U.S. election.”
Reporting indicates that the Democratic National Committee encouraged Chalupa to interface with Ukrainian embassy staff to “arrange an interview in which Poroshenko [the president of Ukraine] might discuss Manafort’s ties to Yanukovych.” … However, another Ukrainian embassy official, Andrii Telizhenko, told Politico that Shulyar instructed him to assist Chalupa with research to connect Trump, Manafort, and the Russians. He reportedly said, “[t]hey were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa” and that “Oksana [Shulyar] was keeping it all quiet…the embassy worked very closely with” Chalupa.
Chalupa’s actions appear to show that she was simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, in an effort to influence not only the U.S voting population but U.S. government officials. Indeed, Telizhenko recalled that Chalupa told him and Shulyar, “[i]f we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump’s involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September.” Later, Chalupa did reportedly meet with staff in the office of Democratic representative Marcy Kaptur to discuss a congressional investigation. Such a public investigation would not only benefit the Hillary Clinton campaign, but it would benefit the Ukrainian government, which, at the time, was working against the Trump campaign. When Politico attempted to ask Rep. Kaptur’s office about the meeting, the office called it a “touchy subject.”
Aside from the apparent evidence of collusion between the DNC, Clinton campaign, and Ukrainian government, Chalupa’s actions implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). As you know, the Committee is planning a hearing on FARA enforcement. Given the public reporting of these activities in support of a foreign government, it is imperative that the Justice Department explain why she has not been required to register under FARA.
So the Clinton campaign was working hand in glove with the Ukraine government to find dirt on Paul Manafort. In fact, back in August of 2016, I quoted some of Chalupa’s work (we followed each other for a while on Twitter until I finally ‘dropped the Chalupa’) in this post…so I have to confess to being part of the collusion.
The question now is who cares? That’s a rhetorical question because other than Chalupa being chastised for not registering under FARA (there have been no successful prosecutions under FARA since 1966) the “collusion” was meaningless because she wasn’t working for Trump. From the very beginning, the whole purpose of the accusation of the Trump campaign “colluding” with Russia has been nothing but a transparent attempt to delegitimize the winner of the 2016 election. While we’re looking at an extraordinary amount of effort being made to try to prove that someone in the Trump campaign did something with the Russians (all I’ve been able to discover is that whatever it is they are looking for doesn’t involve actual electoral impact, so I still don’t know what it is), we have here an obvious and documented effort by a foreign government to influence a US election. And none of the people frothing about Trump care.