(Senate - December 21, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 209 (Thursday, December 21, 2017)]
[Pages S8231-S8232]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I come to the floor tonight to discuss the 
Senate's investigation into Russia in the 2016 election. Specifically, 
I have been reviewing for months documents in the possession of the 
Senate's Intelligence Committee. I regret to say, the depth of the 
committee's investigation is completely unsatisfactory into the crucial 
issues of what I call following the money.
  Early in 2017, I began asking the committee leadership to look into 
any and all financial relationships between Russia and Donald Trump and 
his associates. In an open hearing the committee held in March, I noted 
a number of public facts. First, there is an extraordinary history of 
money laundering in Russia. Billions of dollars from corruption and 
other illegal activities have been moved out of the country. Second, 
the President's son said in 2008: ``Russians make up a pretty 
disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.'' Third, 
entities associated with the President had already been the subject of 
millions of dollars of fines for willful, repeated, and longstanding 
violations of anti-money laundering laws. Fourth, the Congress and the 
American people still haven't seen the President's tax returns.
  Since then, there have been numerous additional press stories about 
associates of the President and their financial connections to Russia. 
In my view, these stories require thorough, detailed investigation. It 
is not just by the press. The special counsel's indictment against 
former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort included extensive detailed 
allegations of laundering of millions of dollars from pro-Russia-
Ukrainian interests. This indictment provided a clear example of how a 
foreign-influenced campaign can be financed through illicit means and 
why the importance of following the money is so crucial.
  There have been others, acknowledged financial connections, such as 
former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his payment from RT, 
the television station that is part of Russia's state-run propaganda 
  Then there are the strange denials, such as when Jared Kushner wrote 
in his statement in July, ``I have not relied on Russian funds to 
finance my business activities in the private sector.''
  I can state, that is some kind of good lawyering because the word 
``rely'' is subjective. Mr. Kushner did not deny financial ties to 
Russia. He said he hadn't relied on those funds, not whether he had 
any, not whether he ever had any, but he hadn't relied on them. That is 
about as lawyerly and subjective a statement as you can imagine.
  My bottom line is, these financial ties need to be a central focus of 
the Intelligence Committee's inquiry. The reason I say this, I want to 
spell out what the connection here is. Our inquiry covered 
counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the election, 
including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and 
individuals associated with political campaigns. Following the money is 
counterintelligence 101.
  If you want to compromise somebody, money is one of the best ways to 
do it. Well, let me repeat that. That is the connection. That is the 
connection between the counterintelligence work that is so important 
and part of the committee's charge. That counterintelligence work 
involves following the money because that is key to really getting into 
the question of whether somebody's been compromised because one of the 
best ways to do it is through funds.

[[Page S8232]]

  Tonight, based on this review of documents, I call again on the 
committee to follow the money aspects of this inquiry, including by 
holding public hearings specifically on this topic.
  In addition, it is not just the Intelligence Committee that ought to 
focus on these issues. As I have been saying since March, the Senate 
Finance Committee, of which I am the ranking Democrat, has a crucial 
role to play on follow-the-money issues as well. Relevant documents 
produced by elements of the Treasury Department which are outside the 
intelligence community, such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement 
Network, ought to be reviewed. There is a need to review these 
documents by the Finance Committee staff because we have specific 
experience and expertise in financial investigation.
  In addition, the Finance Committee specifically has oversight 
responsibilities for tax matters. The Manafort indictment, which 
included tax evasion, demonstrated clearly that taxes, tax evasion, 
offshore accounts, and suspicious real estate transactions are all 
connected. They are all connected, and they ought to be part of any 
serious investigation into ties between Russia, the President, and his 
associates. Unfortunately, I and our committee have gotten no 
cooperation from the Treasury Department. Despite my repeated requests 
as the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, the Treasury 
Department has just stonewalled--plain old stonewalling--the lead 
committee with jurisdiction for the agency.
  For that reason, I want to announce tonight that I will hold 
indefinitely the nomination of the individual to be Assistant Secretary 
of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis until the Department 
cooperates with the Finance Committee and provides the committee with 
documents it needs to do its job.
  Again, I regret that I have to take this step. By the way, many of 
these documents are unclassified in nature, so the Treasury Department 
is denying the Finance Committee access to unclassified documents. That 
is just completely unacceptable.
  We all understand that we are in the midst of extraordinary and 
dangerous times. As our own intelligence community assessed in January, 
Russia interfered in our election with a clear preference for Donald 
Trump. No one, other than Donald Trump, has apparently called this 
assessment into question. For the sake of our national security and the 
future of our country, it is important to get to the bottom of every 
aspect of this attack on our democracy. The American people have 
clearly stated the urgency behind this.
  My view is that the Congress has an obligation to follow the money 
wherever the evidence leads and to conduct a thorough investigation 
that leaves no stones unturned and presents to the public what we find. 
I will close by way of saying that I don't see how you can do the 
essential counterintelligence work that is so important to our 
committee--and I note that the distinguished Presiding Officer of the 
Senate, the Senator from Missouri, is a member of the committee and a 
valued one--I don't see how the committee can do its 
counterintelligence work without following the money, because we know 
that those financial issues are absolutely key--that money is the key 
to compromising an individual--it is obviously so important in trying 
to ensure that we have policies in this country that protect our 
security and our role in the world.
  I yield the floor.