Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday to discuss his investigation into a Russian-born businessman who donated a large sum of money to President Donald Trump’s campaign. After donating $273,000, that businessman then contacted a “high-ranking Russian official” in July 2016 to boast about his newly established connection.
That man, Simon Kukes, an oil executive in Houston, Texas, sent an email that shocked ex-CIA officer Lindsay Moran.
NBC reported on an email exchange between Kukes and the Russian official, in which the businessman touts his ties to the Trump campaign. The emails were obtained through the Dossier Center, a London-based investigative project funded by Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The organization is attempting to expose corruption in Moscow.
“That email really made my blood run cold,” said former CIA officer Lindsay Moran… “Because there’s so little said, and yet so much conveyed.”
“To me what’s conveyed is: ‘I was with Donald Trump, we have a plan in action and it’s going to work. Our guy’s going to win,’” Moran added.
When Engel specifically asked if the email could have been a simple exchange among friends, Moran said, “I don’t buy that” while adding, “This doesn’t read like an email exchange between two friends catching up. To me, this reads like an email exchange between a source and a handler, or a source and headquarters.
Engel: “Do you think that these donations were part of a Russian campaign to influence the election and help President Trump?”
Moran: “Absolutely. After reading this email exchange, I have nary a doubt.”
While the nation is distracted by the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, this is a stark reminder that Russian influence ran deep during the 2016 election.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.