Summary III. K. Transition

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Immediately following Trump’s win in the 2016 presidential election, Russia began attempts to gain access to individuals on the transition team. These attempts came from both Russian government officials seeking direct access to high level transition team members, and oligarchs who pursued inroads through businessmen with access to Trump’s inner circle. The Committee determined that the transition team’s lack of experience and knowledge of security precautions was likely taken advantage of by Russia.

In an attempt to establish a connection to an individual with direct access to Putin, Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. Kislyak eventually put Kushner in touch with Sergei Gorkov, the chairman of Vnesheconombank (VEB). VEB is a state-run bank that was sanctioned by the US. Kislyak was also in contact with Michael Flynn. Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak during the transition regarding sanctions and a UN resolution had the potential to undermine diplomatic efforts of the Obama administration. Flynn lied to the FBI about these discussions.

Putin also directly ordered Russian oligarchs to seek inroads into the transition team. The Committee focused on Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Dmitriev used business contacts including Erik Prince, George Nader, and Rick Gerson, to attempt to gain access to the transition team, including Kushner and Flynn. Robert Foresman, an American banking executive, also attempted to establish himself as a intermediary between Russia and the transition team in an attempt to secure a position in the Trump administration. His contacts included Gorkov.

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