Thursday, February 8, 2018

Democrat Mark Warner Texted With Russian Lobbyist

In an exclusive report tonight, Fox News exposed text messages between Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and lobbyist Alex Waldman.  Waldman runs the Endeavor Group in Washington and works for Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska whose visa was revoked by the State Department in 2006 because of ties to organized crime.
Warner is Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russiagate.
The report stresses “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. In one text to the lobbyist, Warner wrote that he would ‘rather not have a paper trail’ of his messages.”
An aide to Warner confirmed to Fox News that the text messages are authentic. 
The exclusive report continues,“Burr and Warner released a joint statement to Fox News: 
“From the beginning of our investigation we have taken each step in a bipartisan way, and we intend to continue to do so," Warner and Burr said in the statement. "Leaks of incomplete information out of context by anyone, inside or outside our committee, are unacceptable.”
The conversation about Steele started on March 16, 2017, when Waldman texted, "Chris Steele asked me to call you."
Warner responded, "Will call tomorrow be careful.”
"Can you talk tomorrow want to get with ur English friend," Warner texted.
"I spoke to him yesterday," Waldman texted.
The two men appear to have finally connected about Steele by phone on March 22, according to the records.
"Hey just tried u again gotta give a speech but really want to finish our talk," Warner texted.
Waldman, at one point, texted back that Steele really wanted a bi-partisan letter requesting his testimony first. He added that Steele was concerned about word leaking to the media that they were talking.
In one text, Warner suggested he did not want Burr or any other senator included in the discussions: "Ok but I wud (sic) like to do prelim call u me and him no one else before letter just so we have to trail to start want to discuss scope first before letter no leaks."
Waldman noted repeatedly that Steele was concerned about leaks and was "spooked" by all the attention he had received around the world. Steele, he said, was skittish about talking to Warner.
Warner texted back on March 30: "We want to do this right private in London don't want to send letter yet cuz if we can't get agreement wud rather not have paper trail."
On April 5, Warner texted, "Any word on Steele.”
"Yes seems to have cold feet from the leaks. Said he wanted a bipartisan letter followed by written questions," texted Waldman, adding that the Wall Street Journal had contacted him asking if he was an intermediary between the panel and Steele.
In the text messages, Warner also discussed the possibility of a trip to see Steele.
On March 23, Warner texted, "Need to coordinate date for trip can u talk with my scheduler also want to discuss Paul," an apparent reference to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose initials are used in the next text by Waldman.
On March 26, Warner texted, "Really need to set date things r going to really pick up."
"Standing by to do it," texted Waldman. "Awaiting call from your scheduler and also the letter he (Steele) would like they(sic) we discussed. And have second interesting thing to raise. Pls call."
But after calls back and forth, Warner made clear that he wanted to talk to Steele directly without Burr or anyone else being involved, even though Steele was insisting through Waldman that the contact start with a bipartisan letter inviting him to cooperate with the Senate panel.
"Hey can't we do brief (off the record) call today before letter so I can frame letter," Warner texted Waldman on March 29.
Warner began texting with Waldman in February 2017 about the possibility of helping to broker a deal with the Justice Department to get the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to potentially face criminal charges. That went nowhere, though a Warner aide told Fox News that the senator shared his previously undisclosed private conversations about WikiLeaks with the FBI.
Over the course of four months between February and May 2017, Warner and Waldman also exchanged dozens of texts about possible testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee from Deripaska, Waldman's primary Russian billionaire client.
In January 2009, Harper's Magazine reported that Deripaska had hired an advisory firm with close ties to Hillary Clinton to help him get a visa to enter the United States." The magazine quoted Waldman as saying his firm does not lobby, though he filed paperwork with the Justice Department to represent Deripaska before the U.S. government.
In the dozens of text messages between February 2017 and May 2017, Waldman also talked to Warner about getting Deripraska to cooperate with the intelligence committee. There have been reports that Deripraska, who has sued Manafort over a failed business deal, has information to share about the former Trump aide.
In May 2017, the Senate and House intelligence committees decided not to give Deripraska legal immunity in exchange for testimony to the panels. The text messages between Warner and Waldman appeared to stop that month.

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