As the clock ticked towards a likely partial government shutdown, President Trump dredged up his "Crooked Hillary" shtick while reacting to a late Fox News report about text messages that show the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee bargaining with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch in an effort to set up direct communications with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the controversial “Trump dossier."
"Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a “paper trail” on a “private” meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame," Trump tweeted late Thursday. "All tied into Crooked Hillary."
Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a “paper trail” on a “private” meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame. All tied into Crooked Hillary.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2018
The Fox News report revealed the text messages that Warner, D-Va., sent to lobbyist Adam Waldman, whose firm is connected to Hillary Clinton.
They communicated back and forth for several months in 2017 about establishing communication with Steele. However, as Warner pressed for a chance to talk and meet with Steele directly, Waldman said Steele would prefer to have a bipartisan letter to be sent from Warner and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., requesting that Steele appear before the panel.
The report indicated the two parties never reached an agreement.
Waldman had worked on behalf of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who, according to Harper's Magazine in 2009, hired an advisory firm with ties to Clinton to help him get a visa to enter the U.S.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Clinton, his former 2016 presidential rival, by calling her "Crooked Hillary."
Back in December of last year, after it was revealed that the Trump dossier, which contains salacious and unverified claims about his ties to Russia, was funded in part by Clinton's campaign, he tweeted: "WOW ... 'Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.' And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!"
The Trump campaign's ties to Russia are being examined by special counsel Robert Mueller's team, as well as a handful of congressional panel, including the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The report Thursday said Burr, the chairman, knew that Warner had contacted a representative of Steele, but “I don’t believe he was aware of the content of the text messages” at first, an aide to Burr told Fox News.
The report said that the text messages were given to the panel after Warner and Burr signed a joint request for them in June 2017, and the two privately shared the texts with members of the panel because “they realized out of context it doesn’t look great,” a Warner aide told Fox News.
The two issued a statement to Fox News and condemned leaks based on “incomplete information.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the panel, also undercut the report, saying it has "zero impact" on its Russia investigation.
But in response, the report's author, Fox News' Ed Henry, emphasized that what he believed was the key takeaway was Warner's determination to not leave a "paper trail" throughout the communications, referring to one of the senator's texts.