Jill Stein ended months of silence and speculation about her role in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, announcing this week that she would not be complying with a documents request put forth by the Senate intelligence committee.
The announcement, first reported by The Intercept, adds to the litany of questions about Stein’s role in Russia’s broader interference campaigns — a role that suddenly faces new relevance, given the rolling indictments from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In a letter posted this week and written last month, lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard wrote to Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on behalf of Stein, slamming their documents request as “overbroad” and, in certain instances, “not pertinent to the investigation as defined by the Committee itself.”
On her website, Stein added that the requests “intrudes into First Amendment rights.”
While Stein handed over all communications with Russian media organizations, as well as information about her 2015 travel to Moscow, she refused to comply with a request for “communications with Russian persons, or representatives of Russian government, media, or business interests.”
To Stein, such a request apparently included communications with potentially “millions of persons whose ancestry includes Russian heritage, rendering the request impossible to satisfy.” (“Russian persons” are typically understood to be Russian citizens, not anyone across the world who may have Russian ancestry.)
Stein also refused to hand over material relating to her campaign’s platform on Russia. It’s unclear what her platform on Russia was, although she not only claimed multiple times that NATO had “surrounded” Russia with nuclear weapons — even though less than 10 percent of Russia’s land border touches any NATO member-states — but further selected a vice presidential candidate who described the 2014 destruction of Flight MH17 over Ukraine as a false flag attack to make Russia look bad.
Stein has already faced resounding criticism for her relationship with Moscow. Not only did she appear in that memorable December 2015 photo with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin — coming at an event celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Russian propaganda outlet RT — but she made numerous appearances on RT during the campaign.
RT also hosted the Green Party’s presidential debate, on which Stein appeared. Even after other Green Party candidates boycotted the debate, with one candidate describing the it as the “worst kind of representation of what the Green Party should be,” Stein instead praised the hosts, describing the debate on RT as a “step towards real democracy and an inspiration for… millions of Americans.”
— Dr. Jill Stein🌻 (@DrJillStein) October 20, 2016
Stein, as it is, still appears unsure if Russia even tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, despite all mountains of evidence — from meetings with the Trump campaign to massive social media operations — otherwise.
In December, she told Vice that she still hasn’t seen anything to convince her “it was Russians” who attempted to interfere during the campaign. This week, she added on Facebook that “‘Russiagate’ is both a symptom and further cause of the current state of rampant militarism that is harming our democracy.” (It’s unclear what Stein means by “Russiagate.”) She also pointed to unnamed journalists who apparently believe Russia’s fake social media efforts were “not an election meddling operation.”