Senate panel backs intelligence agencies on Russia-Trump conclusions

Frederick Owens
July 6, 2018

A Republican-controlled Senate panel has said that further evidence has been found to support a U.S. intelligence assessment that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help elect Donald Trump. The Russian effort was extensive and sophisticated, and its goals were to undermine public faith in the democratic process, to hurt Secretary Clinton and to help Donald Trump.

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency had "high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin aspired to help Trump's election chances by denigrating opponent Hillary Clinton, the NSA had only "moderate confidence" in that assessment, according to the January 2017 analysis.

The intelligence community determined that the Kremlin meant to "denigrate" and "harm" Clinton, and "undermine public faith in the USA democratic process" while helping Trump.

President Trump seemed to claim last week that Russian Federation may not have been involved in a conspiracy to disrupt the election, but the White House on Tuesday said that he "feels" that Putin's government did it and 'didn't question that'.

The House committee's report disputed how the intelligence community reached its assessment.

The Senate intelligence committee said "information obtained subsequent to publication" of a January 2017 report by United States intelligence agencies "provides further support" to the conclusion that Vladimir Putin and his government aimed to discredit Hillary Clinton and boost Trump. The panel has already released similar findings and recommendations for ensuring better election security; it is also expected to release an assessment of the Obama administration's conduct related to the Russian threat and another document examining the role social media played in Russia's influence operations. But U.S. officials later said publicly that Moscow in fact did seek to support Trump.

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The lawsuit was filed past year by two major DNC donors - Roy Cockrum and Eric Schoenberg - and former DNC staffer Scott Comer, who accused Trump and his former adviser, Roger Stone, of engaging in a conspiracy with unidentified Russian agents and WikiLeaks to publish hacked emails in July 2016. 'The president has been clear and he's said it many times that he feels Russian Federation interfered in our election'.

The January 2017 intelligence assessment said Russian activities in the runup to the presidential election represented a "significant escalation" in a long history of Russian attempts to interfere in US domestic politics, the committee said.

But the committee found - based on its own interviews with witnesses - that "the dossier did not in any way inform the analysis in the ICA - including the key findings - because it was unverified information".

Nonetheless, mainstream news outlets interpreted the Senate committee's report as repudiating House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) personally. The panel previously issued election security recommendations, and separately announced that it concurs with the Intelligence Community finding that Russian Federation tried to help Trump. The Senate report concluded that the intelligence investigation was carried out fairly, without political bias.

On Tuesday, Warner said the committee's review had confirmed those findings.

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