In April, the Senate Intel Committee led by Sen. Richard Burr sent a bipartisan letter asking for a private interview with British security consultant Walter Soriano. Politico just got a copy of the letter and reports it’s not clear what the Intel Committee is after:
The panel’s interest in Soriano is not a mere fishing expedition, according to a source familiar with the investigators’ internal deliberations who requested anonymity to discuss them freely.
“They’re surprised by how connected he seems to several people of interest,” this person said, including the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska — a former business associate of Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who offered Deripaska private briefings about the campaign in 2016. Deripaska is believed to have worked with Soriano on corporate intelligence matters, this person said.
…The letter asked for “all communications or records of communications” with some characters who have by now become household names, like Manafort and Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The committee also requested Soriano’s communications with three Israeli private intelligence firms: Psy Group, Wikistrat, and Black Cube, as well as any communications he may have had with Orbis Business Intelligence, a firm co-founded by the former British spy Christopher Steele.
Maybe the committee is looking for something specific that they don’t want to telegraph at this moment, but it sounds a bit like a fishing expedition to me. Is this an attempt to establish a back-channel connection between a Russian oligarch and Paul Manafort?
Politico says it’s also not sure why the committee would be interested in communications with Israeli firms, one of which (Psy Group) did some work for Trump’s campaign. I’m not sure why we need to drag this investigation onward now that the big question about collusion has been answered by the Mueller report. Can’t we put this to rest now?