Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein in Washington, D.C., on August 23, 2016. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
Former 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein told TYT that she will urge members of her now-defunct campaign to comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation examining alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
As TYT previously reported, Stein’s one-time communications director Dennis Trainor Jr. has expressed ambivalence about whether to comply with a forthcoming inquiry, given the political and legal considerations involved. Trainor told TYT that he maintains sole access to some communications at the earliest phase of the campaign, from January to August 2015, when he arranged Stein’s appearances on RT America, the state-owned Russian TV network.
Asked specifically what materials the Senate investigators are seeking, Stein said, “Our attorneys are trying to define that clearly now, so I don’t have an answer for you yet, exactly. But our intent is to err on the side of transparency here, and to address this question of our interactions with Russia.”
Asked whether she thought cooperating with the investigation could be seen as validating what she believes to be a spurious line of inquiry by the Senate committee, Stein said, “There are competing ethical issues here . . . and in my view the need for transparency takes precedence.”
Trainor was at the helm of the campaign before there was much of an internal infrastructure. “I think he was on the job for three months, four months, something like that?” she said of Trainor. “He was well before the real action began. I don’t expect there to be hardly anything in his possession, and certainly nothing of significance.” Trainor told TYT he worked for Stein for approximately seven months.
Trainor told TYT that what he does have is of little consequence beyond communications with RT bookers and producers, from when he was setting up her TV appearances on his personal email account.
“If people did stuff on their private email accounts then they need to search, too,” Stein said.
In the course of searching for Russian-related documents in the campaign’s files, Stein said the only materials which have not already been made public yet amount to banalities—such as emails between her staff and producers at RT. “Sure, you’re welcome to all of this administrative trivia and logistics,” Stein said. “You’re welcome to it—look at it. See how ridiculous it is. That is the nature of our interaction with Russia. You’re going to make a conspiracy out of that?”
Stein says she originally got word that Senate investigators were seeking her out when a Green Party staffer notified her that someone was posting on the party website about wanting her to get in touch with Senate investigators. “We thought it was a hoax—you know, a Senate intelligence committee usually has a little bit of intelligence about how to get in touch with you, right? So we ignored it, as we get hoaxes all the time.” Eventually, Senate investigators made contact with an attorney who represented her during the recount effort she spearheaded last year.
Stein’s 2016 campaign contested the presidential election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. A full recount was held only in Wisconsin. Despite the hopes of many Hillary Clinton supporters who donated to fund the effort—Stein raised approximately $7.3 million— Trump’s margin of victory in Wisconsin actually increased due to the recount.
The crux of Stein’s association with Russian-interference intrigue stems from her appearance at an RT anniversary gala in December 2015, when she was seated at a table with Vladimir Putin for what she describes as a “perfunctory” amount of time. “There’s been a smear campaign going on for about a year, and a lot of people have been poisoned by that,” Stein said, speculating as to the possible motives for the Senate committee’s request for information. “And so they think that there was something really nefarious going on around that table because a lot of people asserted that and portrayed it as if it was a close conversation. Hardly.”
Stein has discussed the circumstances of the dinner on numerous occasions, and even publicized the event herself at the time. “No names were exchanged, no eye contact, nada,” she reiterated. “Just a quick handshake—that’s it. There was nothing meaningful at that dinner.”
But Stein says transparency should trump any other concern, and she intends to comply to the fullest possible extent with the Senate committee—if only to highlight its inanity. “There’s plenty of room to critique what this investigation is about, and we will do that in parallel,” she said.
Stein characterized the Senate inquest as part of a political climate which has seen “a resurgence of McCarthyism,” and asserts that media coverage that portrays her as party to some sinister global conspiracy is wildly irresponsible. “The standards of journalism exercised in the discussion of Russia-gate are abysmal,” she said. “There are no consequences for the reporters who basically launched these extremely irresponsible and destructive stories that diminish the stature of the press and that legitimizes the charge of fake news. So yeah, it’s full of crap.”