Wednesday, March 21, 2018
AMERICANA / STATUS OF HOUSE DEMOCRATS INQUIRY INTO RUSSIAN MEDDLING
HERE’S WHAT THE GOP HOUSE LEADERSHIP LEFT ON THE TABLE REGARDING RUSSIAN MEDDLING.
PART 3 of 3 PARTS.
Appendix C: Document Requests
Deutsche Bank: Given public statements from the Trump Organization about the centrality of Russian investment in their holdings, Deutsche Bank’s history of laundering Russian money, and allegations that Russia may exert financial influence over the President, the Committee must request documents and hear testimony from Deutsche Bank, via subpoena if necessary, to evaluate allegations about money transfers and other activity linked to Russia and whether there is any Russian involvement in Deutsche Bank’s loans and other transactions with the Trump Organization; Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, along with any Manafort-linked entities; and other persons of interest to the Committee. In addition to required testimony, as outlined in Appendix B above, the Committee should specifically request documents from Deutsche Bank’s Risk Division, including but not limited to the Group Risk Office and Credit Risk Management teams and with regard to any due diligence undertaken vis-à-vis Trump transactions after the election, as well as from individuals in Deutsche Bank’s personal wealth management division, including Rosemary Vrablic, who may have knowledge of transactions and other activity of interest to the Committee. General Services Administration (GSA): In a December 16, 2017 letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, a law and crisis management firm writing on behalf of Trump for America, Inc, (TFA) (the entity formed for the purpose of President Trump’s transition) asserted that the GSA “unlawfully produced TFA’s private materials, including privileged communications, to the Special Counsel’s Office,” which, in turn, reportedly has used these records extensively in interviews, “including portions that are susceptible to claims of
privilege.” The Special Counsel’s Office disputed the accusation, noting: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.” GSA also responded to press inquiries to clarify that GSA informed transition team members that, by using devices provided by GSA, materials “would not be held back in any law enforcement” requests. The TFA allegation against the Special Council and GSA raises deep concern that TFA may have in fact withheld from the Committee, potentially on unspecified privilege claims not recognized by Congress, responsive material that is relevant to the Committee’s investigation. The Minority, therefore, believes it is essential that the Committee request directly from GSA all transition-related holdings that were already shared with the Special Counsel’s Office to ensure that the Committee has access to the full scope of relevant material and can determine independently whether TFA improperly withheld material from the Committee pertinent to our investigation.
Snapchat and Imgur: Based on public reporting that the Russian disinformation campaign reached several social media platforms beyond Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, we recommend sending document request letters to Snapchat and Imgur asking them to study the scope and scale of the Russian campaign on their platforms. The Minority sent a document request on March 7, 2018 to Reddit and Tumblr, which the Majority declined to join. We would further suggest that
these companies coordinate with Twitter and Facebook in particular to share common markers and indicators of Russian activity. We would also recommend requesting a briefing from each of these companies alongside receipt of internal data and research relevant to the Committee’s investigation.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google: The Committee convened an open hearing with executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google on November 1, 2017 to inform the American public of the companies’ initial findings about Russia’s weaponization of social media prior to and during the 2016 U.S. elections.
As these companies have acknowledged, they and other technology companies need to conduct more extensive forensic investigation of their platforms to map out the entire network of covert personas and accounts that Russia deployed; how Russia amplified fake pages and accounts, including through paid advertising; and how Russian disinformation spread within and across platforms.
The Committee, in parallel, must investigate how Russian disinformation spread beyond social media to infiltrate press reporting and public debate; whether and how the presidential campaigns used or were harmed by this covert influence operation; and propose policy and legislative changes that can help guard against future foreign government weaponization of technology platforms.
The Committee should therefore send all three companies follow-up letters requesting:
(1) that these and other technology companies affected by the Russian influence campaign pool resources and conduct a joint investigation into the full scope and depth of the Russian influence campaign; and
(2) that each company publish online an easily accessible and searchable public repository available to the entire online community of all content linked to malign Russian actors
and identified as such.
Kushner Companies and Observer Media: As noted in Appendix B, the Committee should seek, in advance of a second interview, Jared Kushner’s voluntary cooperation to produce, or compel via subpoena if necessary, additional material responsive to the Committee’s parameters, which the Committee has reason to believe remains in Mr. Kushner’s personal possession or in the possession of Kushner Companies, Observer Media, and any other relevant entities under Mr. Kushner’s ownership or direction.
This request follows the Committee’s September 29, 2017 request of Mr. Kushner’s attorney, to which he never responded, for clarification regarding all of the specific email addresses Mr. Kushner used during the course of the campaign as well as the presidential transition, including personal or business email accounts (such as Kushner Companies and the Observer publication); the search methodology, including the specific search terms, used to identify documents responsive to the Committee’s investigation; all messaging applications that Mr. Kushner used during the campaign as well as the presidential transition, including but not limited to SMS,
iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Slack, Instagram, and Snapchat; the scope of the search conducted on these messaging platforms, including the date range and search criteria; and whether Mr. Kushner or his attorneys have identified responsive exchanges on these messaging platforms, including with individuals linked directly or indirectly with President Trump’s presidential campaign and transition, including individuals involved in assisting the campaign’s digital and online activity, as well as with any foreign nationals linked directly or indirectly to foreign governments, to include the Russian Federation.
Bayrock Group: Founded by Tevfik Arif, Bayrock Group employed Felix Sater as Chief Operating Officer and was involved in several Trump-branded properties of interest to the
Committee. The Committee should request documents from the company to help clarify Bayrock’s financial dealings, including with Russia, as well as Mr. Sater’s activities. Estate of Peter Smith: The Committee must send a production letter to the estate of Peter Smith. The Committee has thus far only interviewed a small number of individuals tied to Mr.
Smith’s effort to solicit assistance from actors on the dark web, including possibly Russian individuals, to acquire “missing” emails linked to Clinton, and has reason to believe that Mr.
Smith was, in fact, in contact with the Trump campaign.
KLS Research LLC: The Committee should also send a letter to the LLC formed by Peter Smith to facilitate his operation to find and disseminate Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails.
Colt Ventures: As explained in Appendix B, the Committee should seek documents from Darren Blanton and his company Colt Ventures, which the Trump campaign reportedly
contracted for “data management services” and is an investor in VizSense, a social-media company reported to have conducted work on behalf of the campaign and Michael Flynn.
VizSense Inc. and White Canvas Group: As explained in Appendix B, the Committee should also seek documents from VizSense Inc. and White Canvas Group, both of which are tied to
Michael Flynn associate Jon Iadonisi. VizSense is reported to have conducted social-media work for the Trump campaign and Mr. Flynn’s firm, while White Canvas Group reportedly undertook Turkey-related work for Mr. Flynn.
Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA: In advance of interviewing Sergei Millian (see Appendix B), the Committee should also request documents from the organization he founded, the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA. DMP International LLC: The Committee should request documents from DMP International LLC, which Paul Manafort listed in his Foreign Agents Registration Act disclosures. In his disclosures, DMP International LLC describes $17.1 million in receipts from Ukraine’s proRussian Party of Regions, for a net total of $13.2 million from the Ukrainian political party. This information is important for the Committee to review in light of several indictments of Paul Manafort secured by the Special Counsel.
Cendyn: Cendyn is a cloud computing company that hosted the Trump Organization and may be able to shed light on allegations that the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank shared a data link that transmitted large volumes of data during the election. The Minority asks that the Committee send Cendyn a document production letter, to include a request for underlying data that can help the Committee evaluate these allegations.
Bridges LLC: Bridges LLC is a limited liability company reportedly begun by Paul Erickson and Maria Butina (see Appendix B) in South Dakota. Given Mr. Erickson and Ms. Butina’s attempt to facilitate a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin through their connection to the National Rifle Association, we recommend seeking records relative to any donations made to the NRA during the campaign, in particular to determine whether foreign money was funneled to the organization to support the candidate Trump.
Right to Bear Arms: Right to Bear Arms is a Moscow-based entity begun by Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin (see above). We suggest requesting records related to meetings between this group and Trump Campaign associates, and records related to any funding provided to the National Rifle Association during the campaign.
Center for Political and Foreign Affairs: Founded by Fabien Baussert, the Paris-based organization helped coordinate Donald Trump Jr.’s October 2016 visit to Paris, during the final
stretch of the presidential election. Baussert and his spouse, Randa Kassis, the president and founder of the group “Movement of the Pluralistic Society” with acknowledged ties to Russian officials, hosted Mr. Trump’s Paris trip, which is of investigative interest to the Committee, including with whom he met while on his trip and at whose financial expense. The Committee should request relevant documents from the Center for Political and Foreign Affairs, Kassis’ Movement of the Pluralistic Society, and from Baussert and Kassis to help clarify the purpose of and details surrounding Mr. Trump’s visit at the height of the campaign.
Ritz Carlton: The Committee should send Ritz Carlton a request for records relating to Donald Trump’s 2013 visit to Moscow, which can help clarify outstanding questions about the Miss
Universe pageant and Donald Trump’s stay in Moscow.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: The Committee should request from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts relevant records regarding the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, which can help
clarify outstanding questions about meetings held at the hotel in January 2017 involving Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the Russian
government’s sovereign wealth fund.
ACU Strategic Partners: The Committee should request document production from ACU Strategic Partners, including correspondence between Alex Copson and Michael Flynn (see
Appendix D: Compulsory Process
Donald Trump Jr.: In his December 6, 2017 voluntary interview, Donald Trump Jr. asserted attorney-client privilege to avoid testifying about the substance of communications with his father in 2017. These conversations pertain to important matters under investigation. It is the Minority’s view that this assertion of privilege, invoked based on Trump and Trump Jr. having attorneys present for at least one phone call, is meritless and merely an effort to shield non-privileged direct
communications between father and son on matters unrelated to seeking, obtaining, or providing legal assistance from counsel. The Committee should approve a subpoena to compel Trump Jr. to disclose the substance of communications with his father.
Michael Cohen: In light of information the Committee has become aware of since the Committee’s October 24, 2017 interview of Mr. Cohen, including new testimony and documents
produced to the Committee, the Committee must conduct a follow-on interview with Mr. Cohen.
In particular, the Committee should compel Mr. Cohen’s production of all documents and communications related to the 2015-2016 Trump Tower Moscow Letter of Intent signed by then candidate Trump, as well as travel, phone, and transaction records and other documents to verify his denials of claims that he met with Russian officials during the campaign.
Jared Kushner: The Committee interviewed Mr. Kushner on July 25, 2017. The Committee has learned a great deal about the Trump campaign’s activities with respect to Russia since Mr. Kushner’s initial interview. The Committee should bring Mr. Kushner back, via subpoena if necessary, for a follow-up interview to discuss several matters requiring additional inquiry, including activities relating to Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Cambridge Analytica, his June 9, 2019 Trump Tower meeting, contact with foreigners of interest, and his professional business dealings and loans which may have connections to Russia.
Corey Lewandowski: Mr. Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, refused during his March 8, 2018 interview—his second appearance before the Committee—to answer questions
regarding his communication with President Trump regarding former FBI Director Comey,
Special Counsel Mueller, and Attorney General Sessions, as well as his communications with certain administration officials pertaining to the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. A
subpoena is necessary to compel Mr. Lewandowski’s cooperation.
Stephen Bannon: One of the Russia investigation’s few, bipartisan subpoenas was issued to Mr. Bannon, whom the White House had barred from answering relevant questions based on an expansive claim of executive privilege that extends into the transition period and continues after Mr. Bannon left the White House. The White House has since permitted Mr. Bannon to answer only two dozen scripted, yes-or-no questions, while prohibiting him from answering a wide range of other questions related to the transition, his tenure at the White House, and even his communications since leaving the administration. The Committee should therefore initiate a
contempt process to compel the White House to permit Mr. Bannon to testify to Congress fully and without constraints.
Hope Hicks: Unlike with Stephen Bannon, the Majority refused to issue a subpoena to compel Ms. Hicks’ testimony after the White House barred her, without formally invoking executive
privilege, from answering questions related to various transition matters and her tenure in the Trump Administration. This double standard is inexplicable. The Committee must issue a subpoena and, if necessary, move to initiate contempt proceedings to compel the White House to permit Ms. Hicks to testify to Congress fully and without constraints. The subpoena should also compel production of any relevant materials produced by Hicks, including any notes she may have
taken regarding events of interest.
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III: In his November 30, 2017 interview, Attorney General Sessions refused to answer questions from the Committee that pertained to his conversations with President Trump about Russia’s interference and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Counsel’s Russia investigations, including whether President Trump ever instructed AG Sessions to take any action to frustrate or obstruct the Russia investigation under the Department of Justice’s purview. It is in the Committee and Congress’ strong interest to compel AG Sessions’s
testimony on this matter to clarify whether and to what extent President Trump or his associates have sought to place undue pressure on the DOJ or FBI for political ends.
Erik Prince: In light of recent press reports that call into question Mr. Prince’s November 30, 2017 testimony, Mr. Prince should be compelled to reappear before the Committee. Moreover, Mr. Prince produced to the Committee immediately prior to his November 30, 2017 testimony less than 25 pages of documentation of little to no relevance to the Committee’s investigation.
He did not produce any records related to his interaction with the Trump Organization or\campaign, including with any persons who may be linked to the Russian government or
companies. He also did not produce any material related to his travel to the Seychelles, including information that can shed light on the purpose of his visit, his meetings and discussions while there, and any follow-up since the visit. The Committee should issue a subpoena with specific instructions to Mr. Prince and to his company, Frontier Services Group, to compel production of responsive material to the Committee, which the Minority has reason to believe is in Mr. Prince and/or his company’s possession.
Randolph “Randy” Credico: Mr. Credico, who Roger Stone identified publicly as his intermediary with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, informed the Committee on November 20,
2017, via his attorney, that he declined to participate in a voluntary, transcribed interview. On December 12, 2017, pursuant to a late November 2017 Committee subpoena, Mr. Credico’s attorney informed the Committee that Mr. Credico would assert his 5th Amendment rights and decline to answer any questions. The Committee should explore with Special Counsel whether he has any prosecutorial equities that would preclude providing immunity and requiring Mr. Credico
to answer our questions.
Lee Stranahan: Employed by Russian outlet Sputnik, Mr. Stranahan never responded to the Committee’s May 9, 2017 interview and production letter, which the Committee sent
electronically. The Committee should issue Mr. Stranahan a subpoena for production and appearance.
Twitter: Per Majority and Minority consultation with the House’s Office of General Counsel in mid-September 2017, and the Minority’s renewed request on October 16, 2017, the Committee should issue a subpoena to Twitter to produce Direct Messages from and between the Twitter handles identified as relevant to this investigation, including those of Guccifer 2.0, WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange. Twitter, in response to the Committee’s June 29, 2017 request for voluntary
cooperation, stated it could not comply with the Committee’s request absent compulsory process.
WhatsApp: The Committee should likewise issue a subpoena to WhatsApp for messages exchanged between key witnesses of interest.
Apple: The Committee should seek records reflecting downloaded encrypted messaging apps for certain key individuals.
White House: After firing FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017, President Trump tweeted on May 12, 2017: “James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” On June 9, 2017, the Committee sent White Counsel Donald McGahn a letter requesting that, “the White House inform the Committee if there exist now, or at any time have existed, any recordings, memoranda, or other documents within the possession of the White House which memorialized conversations between President Donald J. Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.” On June 23, 2017, the Committee received a response letter from the Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs referring the Committee to “President Trump's June 22, 2017, statement regarding this matter” as its official response. The letter quotes in full the President's statement that was made in the form of successive tweets on Twitter, in which the President stated that he has “no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings” of his conversations with James Comey and that the President “did not make” and does “not have any such recordings.”
On June 29, 2017 the Committee sent the White House a second bipartisan letter urging the White House to appropriately and fully comply with the Committee's June 9 request and clarifying that, should the White House not respond fully, “the Committee will consider using compulsory process to ensure a satisfactory response.” The Committee made clear that the President's statement on Twitter, and the White House’s letter referring to the President’s statement, were only partially responsive to the Committee's request. By only referring to the
President’s statement, the White House’s letter did not clarify for the Committee whether the White House has any responsive recordings, memoranda, or other documents.
The White House responded that same day—June 29, 2017—stating: “To clarify, the White House’s previous response to your letter advising you that the White House has no recordings, together with the President’s public statements on the matter, constitute our response to your request.” As the Minority made clear to the Majority at the time, the White House’s two responses are woefully inadequate and sidestep the Committee’s explicit requests by not acknowledging or addressing (1) whether “recordings, memoranda, or other documents” at “any
time have existed” within the “possession of the White House which memorialized conversations between President Donald J. Trump and former FBI Director James Comey”; and (2) whether
any memoranda or other documents “exist now” in the White House’s possession memorializing the same.
The Minority has a good faith reason to believe that the White House does, in fact, possess such documentation memorializing President Trump’s conversations with Director Comey.
Subsequent press reporting revealed the existence of a memorandum reportedly composed by President Trump and Stephen Miller that referenced President Trump’s communications with Director Comey. The Committee should subpoena to the White House to produce all responsive
Phone and Other Communication Records: The Trump Organization and Donald Trump Jr. have produced records that redact phone metadata related to communications with specific phone numbers. Based on the timing of these calls, the Committee must determine whether some of these calls may be between Trump Jr. and Donald J. Trump, including calls concerning the Trump Tower meeting. The Committee should, therefore, request, via compulsory process if necessary, that the Trump Organization discloses to the Committee the phone numbers that have been redacted and produce, if applicable, any other call records between Trump Jr. and Donald J. Trump during key periods during the election and transition, and since the inauguration.