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Senator wants more information on Trump's 'digital' activities during campaign

Mark Niquette and Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON –– The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee Sunday called for more investigation into the digital activities of Donald Trump's campaign, out of concerns about Russian-directed misinformation efforts to influence the election.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said he wants to look into the activities of Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that advised Trump's campaign, and Trump's digital efforts during the campaign because of how false stories about Hillary Clinton were circulated online.

"The ability to manipulate these search engines and some of these social media platforms is real, it's out there," Warner said on CNN's "State of the Union." "We need information from the companies, as well as we need to look into the activities of some of the Trump digital campaign activities."

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Warner said there was a series of "trolls" or paid individuals who worked for Russian services that tried to interfere in the election and disseminate fake news.

The comments came as FBI and congressional committees continue to investigate Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and whether members of Trump's campaign cooperated. Questions intensified after revelations last week that the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., met in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer whom Trump Jr. believed to have had information damaging to Clinton. Also at the meeting was Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's personal attorneys, appeared on Sunday talk shows to say the meeting didn't violate the law and that the president wasn't aware of the meeting and didn't participate.

"I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in," Sekulow said on ABC's "This Week." "The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me."

On CNN, Warner pointed to what he called a "convenient pattern" of Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, and other members associated with the Trump administration having to amend disclosure forms to add meetings with Russians that they had neglected to report earlier.

"I'm not sure why we take anybody in the senior level of the Trump administration at their word," he said. "That's why it's so important that we're going to get a chance to question these individuals and try to actually nail down the truth."

Warner has said Trump Jr. is likely to be called to testify, and he said on CNN that he would also like to hear from Kushner and others.

After the younger Trump published emails related to the meeting on Twitter, pre-empting their release by The New York Times, a former Russian counterintelligence officer also said he was present at the meeting. The emails contradicted months of White House contentions that investigations of possible campaign collusion with Russia were nothing more than a "witch hunt."

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(Niquette reported from Columbus, Ohio. Ben Brody contributed to this report.)

(c)2017 Bloomberg News

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