The Senate Intelligence committee investigating potential Russian interference into the 2016 election has expanded the scope of its investigation to include Green Party nominee Jill Stein and another as-of-yet unnamed campaign, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said Monday evening.
The news about Stein was first reported by BuzzFeed News Monday.
“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve got two other campaigns that we’re just starting on,” Burr told BuzzFeed Monday evening. Asked what he was looking for by investigating Stein specifically, Burr said, “Collusion with the Russians.”
A former Stein staffer, Dennis Trainor Jr., told BuzzFeed that Stein had contacted him to tell him the Senate Intelligence Committee was requesting the campaign comply with a document search, which BuzzFeed reported Stein is expected to release publicly as well. Trainor also said he believes the committee is particularly interested in Stein’s appearances on RT, Russia’s state television network, which the Justice Department recently ordered register as an agent of the Russian government.
Trainor told BuzzFeed it believes the investigation is “vilifying anyone who’s ever appeared on or talked with anyone on the RT network.”
Stein has not been a major figure in the Russia investigation, but the Senate Judiciary committee did mention her in a letter sent to Donald Trump Jr. in July, requesting correspondence to and from Stein and other figures in the investigation.
Additionally, Stein has come under fire for attending a 2015 dinner in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. (Flynn recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s own investigation into Russian meddling, and Flynn is believed to be cooperating with Mueller in the investigation.)
Stein said she attended the 2015 dinner, which was a celebration of 10 years of RT (though Stein called it a “conference”), to talk about achieving peace in the Middle East. She told Democracy Now, however, that she wasn’t able to discuss the region with Putin because there was no interpreter at the table. It was unclear who paid for Stein’s trip to Russia for the gala or accommodations while she was there, as the Daily Beast reported earlier this year, but — after 14 months — Stein said she paid her own way.
Stein also praised Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — who corresponded with Trump Jr. during the campaign — during the election, saying there was “no question” he was a hero for leaking Democratic National Committee emails.
In the same interview with CNN, Stein dismissed any concerned about Russian election meddling, saying, “This is routine… This is what state departments do to one another.”
CORRECTION: This piece originally said Stein had not answered questions about who paid for her 2015 trip to Russia.