Editor’s Note: Due to a reporting error, this story originally reported that Vkontakte had directly provided documents to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators about contacts between a company executive and the Trump campaign. TPM has no information on how the committee obtained the documents, and there is no evidence to suggest Vkontakte is cooperating with the investigation. We regret the error.
Senate investigators have obtained information about contacts between an executive at a Russian social media giant and the Trump campaign, TPM has learned.
The documents obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee relate to communication between VKontakte and Dan Scavino, a Trump campaign staffer who now works as the White House social media director.
Vkontakte, a social network similar to Facebook, ranks as the most popular website in Russia and is owned by the publicly traded Mail.Ru.
The nature of the documents obtained by the Committee isn’t clear, but previous reports in the press have detailed emails exchanged in 2016 between Konstantin Sidorkov, VKontakte’s director of partnership marketing, and Scavino.
The Washington Post first reported on the email exchange last month, citing “people familiar with the messages.” Sidorkov emailed Scavino and Donald Jr., offering to help make Trump’s campaign “the top news in Russia,” the Post reported. In response, Scavino expressed interest, but it isn’t clear that the conversation progressed beyond that introduction.
The Post added that Scavino’s liaison with Vkontakte was Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who also brokered the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump, Jr, and a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
On Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters to Scavino and Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign’s digital director, asking about the campaign’s contacts with Russia. “[T]he Committee has received information that you may have corresponded with Russian nationals regarding Trump campaign social media efforts,” Feinstein wrote to Scavino.
Vkontakte is broadly used in Russia, but its English-language users tend to be politically aligned far to the right of the mainstream, the Post reported.
TPM has contacted Vkontakte for comment and will update this piece with any response.