Former U.S. government officials who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations co-wrote an amicus brief in relation to a lawsuit brought against Donald Trump and self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone, Business Insider reports.
The brief, described by former federal prosecutor Renato Mariott as “unusual,” didn’t lend support to either party in the case, which was brought against Trump and Stone by three individuals who had personal information stolen from Democratic National Committee servers and subsequently published by the “transparency organization” WikiLeaks. The suit alleges Trump, Stone “and those they conspired with arranged for the hacked information to be provided to WikiLeaks.”
But the filing, signed by fourteen former national security, intelligence and foreign policy officials, outlines Russia’s “active measures” to influence the U.S. election and “undermine confidence in democratic leaders and institutions.” It also refutes a key Trump talking point that “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,” “an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,” and a “hoax.”
“According to an official U.S. intelligence assessment, Russia conducted cyber espionage operations against targets associated with the 2016 presidential election starting during the Republican primaries, and distributed information obtained through those operations—as well as a wide range of propaganda and disinformation—to undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process and, in the general election, influence the results against Secretary Hillary Clinton,” the brief reads.
It also described the Kremlin’s efforts to recruit cut-outs to bring operatives closer to targets. Cut-outs can be anything from “the unwitting accomplice who is manipulated to act in what he believes is his best interest, to the ideological or economic ally who broadly shares Russian interests, to the knowing agent of influence who is recruited or coerced to directly advance Russian operations and objectives,” the officials state.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, Michael Carpenter, told Business Insider the former officials wrote the brief “to inform the court, and by extension the American public, about the subversive character of Russian ‘active measures’ campaigns.”
“One of the key points we make, is that active measures campaigns are almost always carried out using local actors, who enable Kremlin agents to get closer to their target and gather information on how best to achieve their desired goal (for example, establishing a corrupt relationship that can be later exploited for purposes of blackmail or manipulation),” Carpenter said.
That statement calls to mind Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last month to one count of lying to the FBI after he failed to disclose the nature of his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified in May that she had informed the White House a week after Trump’s inauguration she feared Flynn was compromised and that Russian intelligence could blackmail the high-ranking U.S. official. Eighteen days after that concern was raised, Trump fired Flynn.
The timeline and circumstances surrounding Flynn’s dismissal is one of the elements being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. Yates was interviewed by Mueller’s team in July.
Another former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has likewise pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of Mueller’s probe. Onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates await trial next may on a range of charges including conspiracy to launder money and acting as unregistered agents of a foreign principal.
Read the full amicus brief below, via Business Insider: