Over the last few months, the Senate Judiciary Committee has appeared to be busy trying to learn as much as they can about connections between the Trump campaign and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. However, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has accused the committee’s chairman, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), of focusing on the wrong things and trying to create a distraction from the seriousness of the investigation.
It all started on Thursday when Grassley released a copy of a letter he sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking him whether or not the bureau had ever tried to warn the Trump campaign about the connections some of its top officials had to Russia.
‘I write to inquire about whether the FBI ever provided the Trump campaign with a defensive briefing or other warning regarding attempts to infiltrate the campaign by people connected with, or compromised by, Russian intelligence.’
Grassley added in the letter:
‘If the FBI did provide a defensive briefing or similar warning to the [Trump] campaign, then that would raise important questions about how the Trump campaign responded. On the other hand, if the FBI did not alert the campaign, then that would raise serious questions about what factors contributed to its decision and why it appears to have been handled differently in a very similar circumstance involving a previous campaign.’
He also mentioned reports that say Senator McCain’s 2008 campaign was warned about the foreign connections one of its members had. McCain’s former campaign manager, Rick Davis, had previously worked with Paul Manafort, one of Trump’s former campaign managers, on behalf of Ukraine’s Putin-backed Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych.
John Weaver, a former campaign adviser to McCain, is quoted in the letter as saying that “U.S. intelligence raised concerns to McCain’s staff about the Davis Manafort work.”
The letter quotes another anonymous U.S. counterintelligence official, who said:
‘Before there was Trump, there were concerns about some of the same people being around McCain about 10 years ago, and we alerted his team to those concerns and they appeared to take some defensive action.’
After these citing these two sources, Grassley claimed:
‘Indeed, earlier, Senator McCain’s inner circle was reportedly cautioned by U.S. intelligence to distance itself from a Russian advisor who U.S. intelligence believed might have ties to the Russian military, and the McCain team subsequently asked the advisor to leave.’
McCain’s spokeswoman, Julie Tarallo, responded to Grassley’s letter by saying that neither McCain nor anyone on his staff “recalls receiving such warnings from the intelligence community.”
Tarallo then went on to say that Grassley’s comments about McCain are “clearly intended to distract from the serious ongoing investigations into Russia’s interference in our election system.”
‘Facts are stubborn things, and the fact is no member of Congress has done more to push back on Russian aggression, human rights abuses, and corruption than Senator John McCain. Any suggestion to the contrary is clearly intended to distract from the serious ongoing investigations into Russia’s interference in our election system.’
She also said that McCain has “high confidence” in Robert Mueller and the others involved in investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
‘Senator McCain has high confidence in Special Counsel Mueller and our intelligence agencies, and trusts they will follow all of the facts surrounding Russia’s brazen attack on our election wherever they lead.’
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images.