House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speculated that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be blackmailing President Trump, as evidenced by the president’s remarks about Russian interference in the 2016 general election.
The Senate Intelligence Committee released a heavily redacted, 158-page bipartisan report on Tuesday, revealing that it found no evidence of political pressure to reach a specific conclusion and backing the 2017 assessment that Putin “approved and directed aspects of this influence campaign.”
Pelosi was asked about the report and the apparent contrast between what the senators found and Trump’s past statements about the intelligence community during a Wednesday interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. In her response, she alleged that the Russian president could possess damaging information to the president.
“Well, I’m not surprised. As a member of the Gang of Eight, I watched this whole investigation proceed and the rest. And it leads you to the question: What does Vladimir Putin have on President Trump personally, politically, financially, in any way, that he would choose Putin’s words … over the intelligence community and that he would give any currency to a charge that it was the people in the Ukraine who had conducted this to divert any culpability away from the Russians?” Pelosi said.
“Something is very wrong there. But this was again — gives you hope and faith that with the facts and respect for the intelligence that was gathered on it, cannot be denied, no matter what the president says, it cannot be denied,” she added.
Pelosi went on to warn against potential attempts to influence the 2020 presidential election.
The recently released Senate report was the committee’s fourth report on Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. There is still one remaining volume to be released, which will focus on the committee’s counterintelligence findings.
The first volume, released in July, concluded that “Russian government-affiliated cyber actors conducted an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure in the run-up to the 2016.” However, the committee, which admitted that the intelligence community’s insight into that issue was limited, also found “no evidence” that vote tallies were altered or that voter registry files were deleted or modified.
The second volume, released in October, revealed that Russian operatives working through a St. Petersburg-based agency pretended to be Americans online and pushed propaganda and disinformation to tens of millions of social media users in a way that would help Trump and sow discord. It also criticized the Obama administration for its weak response in handling the matter.
The third volume, released in February, criticized the previous administration as well for being unprepared to combat Russia’s election interference effort in 2016 and for fumbling the response, finding that “the U.S. government was not well-postured to counter Russian election interference activity with a full range of readily-available policy options.”
Author: Mike Brest
Source: Washington Examiner: Pelosi wonders if Putin is blackmailing Trump ‘personally, politically, financially in any way’