In her first comments to the press, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said she will cooperate fully with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into “collusion with the Russians” during the 2016 campaign, and is currently searching for relevant documents. Stein denies holding any substantive communications with the Russian government or RT, its state-owned media property.
Stein says her involvement in the inquiry, first reported by BuzzFeed News, came as a surprise when they were first contacted last month. After a subsequent dialogue between attorneys representing Stein and lawyers from the Senate Intelligence Committee, the ex-candidate received a formal request for cooperation. Although she says the possibility of testifying before Congress has not yet been broached, Stein says she would be “happy to do so” if asked.
Still, Stein clearly resents the Senate’s attention vis a vis electoral interference and foreign meddling: “This smacks of the dangerous underbelly of these investigations. The extent to which they exercise overreach, politicizing, and sensationalism is a danger to democracy, especially in the current climate of all-out war on our First Amendment rights. This is not a time to be attacking the rights of political speech and political association.”
In the meantime, Stein’s defunct 2016 campaign is working to “produce all docs related to the inquiry into Russian interference” in accordance with the Intelligence Committee’s formal request, though she doesn’t “believe they’ve given us search terms,” as their respective attorneys are still “in the process of working that out.” Stein added that she’s unaware of a deadline for this document handover, but “we are trying to comply as quickly as we possibly can…there are a number of people we have to contact that we’re not in touch with, and they have to search as well.”
It’s safe to assume the Intelligence Committee is interested in anything pertaining to Stein’s now-infamous attendance at a Gala for RT in Moscow, at which she was seated and photographed with Vladimir Putin and Michael Flynn. Stein told The Intercept that as she has routinely appeared on RT, and she expects to hand over communications related to booking those TV segments and other “administrative” messages between her campaign and the Russian network, as well as “logistical” messages about the Moscow event. Stein also noted that before her Moscow visit she had “requested to speak with either Putin or [Russian foreign minister Sergey] Lavrov, or someone in the Russian government, to be able to discuss our policies, because I was there to advance our agenda for peace and climate action and diplomacy and nuclear weapon abolition.”