Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Senate Probe Continues to Back Up Intelligence on Trump-Russia

Bipartisan Senate panel backs intelligence assessment of 2016 Russian election meddling and the Kremlin's efforts to help President Trump President Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the intelligence community's assessment of Russian election interference
Ellis Copeland | 06 July, 2018, 15:34

A Senate panel investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election released Tuesday a written summary of its determination that the USA intelligence community correctly concluded Moscow sought to help Donald Trump win.

The Senate panel, which has sustained the only major bipartisan investigation into Russian meddling, forcefully rejected a campaign led by House Republicans and President Trump, who have contended that anti-Trump bias tainted the Russia inquiry from the start.

Tuesday's publication by the committee further isolates Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusion that his campaign was aided by Putin and highlighted denials by the Russian president.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in 2017 that "Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate [Hillary Clinton] and harm her electability and potential presidency".

The senators found that the Kremlin directed Russia's meddling, interfering specifically to hurt then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help Trump, then the Republican nominee.

The committee said intelligence analysts they interviewed reported "no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions", and noted that the CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation had "high confidence" that Russian Federation favored Trump, while the National Security Agency had "moderate confidence".

In its 2017 report, USA intelligence agencies wrote that Putin "ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election". It said Russian cyber-attacks "continued well through the 2016 election". Putin last week met with Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, and told him that there had been no interference "by the Russian state", Bolton said in a Fox News interview over the weekend. Trump tweeted on Thursday.

The Senate committee, however, said the scope of Russian interference has only become clearer in the years since the campaign.

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So far, the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation has yielded 19 indictments and five guilty pleas, including from former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates.

The committee is still investigating any possible collusion, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence, officials said.

The House Intelligence Committee also found that Russian Federation meddled in the election in their final report earlier this year.

The Senate committee is still in the process of preparing the classified report detailing its conclusions about the ICA, which when completed will go through a classification review with an eye towards making a version public.

"The Committee heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions", the report said.

The House Intelligence Committee has been split along partisan lines, releasing Republican and Democratic versions of various reports.

According to media reports, the Senate intelligence Committee failed to find evidence that the Kremlin influenced elections to a greater extent than previously thought. A third investigation, being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, came to a controversial end in March.

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