Sen. Mark Warner Traded Secret Texts with Russian Oligarch's Lobbyist Linked to Hillary

Senate Policy Luncheons

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee communicated through phone calls and text messages last spring with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch in order to gain access to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the salacious and unverified anti-Trump dossier.

Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) texted back and forth with lobbyist Adam Waldman, who runs the Endeavor Group -- which has ties to (surprise!) Hillary Clinton -- while leading the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into President Trump's alleged ties to Russia with his Republican colleague North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr.

In one text to the lobbyist, the senator expressed a desire to "not have a paper trail" of his messages. He suggested in another text that he did not want Burr or any other senator included in the discussions.

Waldman signed a $40,000 monthly retainer in 2009 and 2010 to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska.

Before retaining the Endeavor Group, Deripaska had "employed beltway lobbyists close to John McCain, including his former campaign manager Rick Davis," according to a 2009 article in Harper's.

Endeavorโ€™s partners include Lorrie McHugh-Wytkind,  formerly โ€œCommunications Director for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Deputy Press Secretary for Media Affairs and Operations for President Bill Clinton,โ€ and its advisers include  Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior under Bill Clinton and a Hillary supporter during the Democratic presidential primaries.

Deripaska is reportedly a "court oligarch" of Putinโ€™s Kremlin, and is "expected to put up cash and execute state projects when called upon."

A 2006 U.S. embassy  cable published by  Wikileaks described him as "among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis" and "a more or less permanent fixture on Putin's trips abroad."

He had his visa revoked by the State Department in 2006 amid concerns about his links to organized crime, which he has denied.

President Trumpโ€™s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, worked for Deripaska for a few years more than a decade ago, allegedly to advance the interests of Putin.

The text messages between Senator Warner and Adam Waldman were obtained exclusively by Fox News.

"We have so much to discuss u need to be careful but we can help our country," Warner texted Waldman on March 22, 2017.

"I'm in," Waldman texted back to Warner.

At first, Steele seemed open to appearing before the committee under certain conditions. But as more information about his role in creating the discredited dossier came out, he increasingly got cold feet.

Secrecy seemed very important to Warner as the conversation with Waldman heated up March 29, when the lobbyist revealed that Steele wanted a bipartisan letter from Warner and the committeeโ€™s chairman, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, inviting him to talk to the Senate intelligence panel.