The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who is leading a congressional investigation into alleged ties between President Donald Trump's presidential campaign and members of the Russian government, has been caught communicating privately with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch last year as he tried to get in touch with Christopher Steele, the author of the anti-Trump dossier.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) engaged in extensive communications in 2017 with Adam Waldman, a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering access to Steele, an ex-British spy who was hired by Fusion GPS after the opposition research firm was contracted by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign to produce dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump. Fox News reports:
Secrecy seemed very important to Warner as the conversation with Waldman heated up March 29, when the lobbyist revealed that Steele wanted a bipartisan letter from Warner and the committee’s chairman, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, inviting him to talk to the Senate intelligence panel.
Throughout the text exchanges, Warner seemed particularly intent on connecting directly with Steele without anyone else on the Senate Intelligence Committee being in the loop -- at least initially. In one text to the lobbyist, Warner wrote that he would "rather not have a paper trail" of his messages.
Waldman, who runs the Endeavor Group in Washington D.C., has ties to Hillary Clinton and is "best known for signing a $40,000 monthly retainer in 2009 and 2010 to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of controversial Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska. Deripraska had his visa revoked by the State Department in 2006 because of charges, which he has denied, that he has organized crime ties."
We have so much to discuss u need to be careful but we can help our country
- Warner, in text message to Russian lobbyist Adam Waldman
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Warner put out a joint statement condemning the leaks. Burr told Fox News that he was aware that Warner contacted a Russian-connected representative for Steele but was not aware of the content contained in the newly-revealed text messages.
The text messages can be read here: