Republicans believe that the Department of Justice and the FBI may have evidence of efforts into alleged “collusive actions” taken by the Democrats with Ukrainian officials to undermine the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016.
But a Democratic senator is discouraging the DOJ and the FBI from turning over that evidence.
From Washington Examiner:
Chalupa said she developed a network of sources in Washington and Kyiv, and met with Ukrainian Embassy officials during the 2016 campaign about her research focused on the nexus between Manafort, Trump, and Russia, according to a 2017 Politico article. Chalupa has denied being an opposition researcher for the DNC, telling CNN in 2017 that “the DNC never asked me to go to the Ukrainian Embassy to collect information.” Manafort, who is now serving a seven-year prison sentence for federal convictions on bank and tax fraud, resigned as Trump’s campaign chairman in August 2016, as reports emerged about his work on behalf of pro-Russia Ukrainian officials.
Although there was no collusion, the information that came out was then used against the campaign and fed the “Russia connection” theory that the Democrats and Hillary Clinton promoted while the campaign was still going on. Manafort resigned. While Chalupa denied she was told by the DNC to collect information, she was connected to the DNC, she was in charge of the Democratic National Committee’s “ethnic outreach” efforts.
According to a Yahoo report from October 2016, Chalupa began suspecting in the spring of 2016 that she was the subject of a “state-sponsored” cyberattack. FBI agents questioned Chalupa — and imaged her laptop and smartphone — as part of an investigation into the cyberattacks.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who is chair of the Finance Committee and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) who is chair of the Homeland Security Committee sent a letter to the Attorney General Bill Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray in November asking for relevant material and asking for the FBI interview notes.
“If this reporting is accurate, it appears that the DOJ and FBI have in their possession material relevant to our Committees’ ongoing investigation into collusive actions Chalupa and the DNC took to use foreign government sources to undermine the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” Grassley and Johnson wrote. The Senate Republicans also sought interviews with Chalupa and others connected to the alleged collusion effort.
But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) tried to head that off at the pass, with his own letter to Barr and Wray asking that they not turn over the information, calling the request “outrageous,” attacking the reports the Republicans cited and claiming their request raised privacy issues.
“The Senators’ request will have a chilling effect on the victims of nation state cyberattacks, and would discourage them from seeking law enforcement assistance, thereby jeopardizing our national security, limiting our ability to respond to sophisticated cyberattacks, and undermining the civil liberties of American citizens,” Wyden wrote [….]
“Ms. Chalupa voluntarily came forward and provided personal private information to the FBI in order to assist in the investigation of Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 election,” Wyden wrote. “To use her voluntary cooperation in order to weaponize her personal information against her in furtherance of a political attack based on unsupported claims and potential Russian propaganda would compromise public trust in our law enforcement, undermine Americans’ rights, and damage our national security interests.”
“Ms. Chalupa already had her privacy violated once as the result of a cyber-attack by a foreign government. Her privacy should not be violated a second time by her own government. I expect the Justice Department and FBI to take appropriate steps to safeguard Ms. Chalupa’s private personal records from improper use,” Wyden concluded.
An aide for Grassley chastised Wyden for casting aspersions on “legitimate questions” about collusion with Ukraine. The aide noted that the inquiry had nothing to do with theories about the DNC server, but has to do with real questions regarding coordination between Ukrainian officials and the Democrats. The aide accused Wyden of trying to interfere in the investigation and indicated they might already have gotten some of the information they were after.
“Despite his complaints, Wyden neglected to mention that subjects of the inquiry have already voluntarily provided Congress with records Wyden argues should not be sought. With another election less than 10 months away, it’s a shame that the Democrats would choose to interfere with an ongoing investigation into potential election vulnerabilities instead of joining it.”