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Senate Panel Supports 2016 Russian Meddling Assessment

06 July 2018, 02:38 | Darnell Patrick

Backing Intelligence Agencies, U.S. Senate Panel Says Russia Interfered in 2016 Election to Help Trump Win

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr R-N.C. said in a statement Tuesday

The committee, in its summary, also said it "heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions" and that differences in confidence between the National Security Administration, CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation on Putin's desire to help Trump's election "appropriately represents analytic differences and was reached in a professional and transparent manner".

All in all, the Senate panel's report was a unflinching contradiction of numerous core claims made by Trump allies in the House.

"In all the interviews of those who drafted and prepared the ICA (intelligence community assessment), the committee heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions", the committee said.

Officials relied on "public Russian leadership commentary, Russian state media reports, public examples of where Russian interests would have aligned with candidates' policy statements, and a body of intelligence reporting", the Senate report said.

Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the panel spent 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the intelligence community assessment and sees "no reason to dispute the conclusions".

Authored by the CIA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency, the report did not conclude whether the Kremlin had a clear preference for Trump or his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

As far as the ICA's conclusion that Putin wanted to help Trump and hurt Clinton, the Senate Intelligence Committee said the document "provided a range of all-source reporting to support these assessments".

The report, released on July 3 by the Senate Intelligence Committee, was endorsed by its Republican and Democratic leaders, serving as a subtle rebuke to President Donald Trump as he prepares for a momentous summit meeting next week with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

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Mr. Trump has been a frequent critic of the work of the intelligence community in general and of some of the ICA's core findings in particular.

The committee's statement is not a surprise - Burr and Warner have both made previous statements supporting the intelligence community's assessment. Trump tweeted, then questioned whether law enforcement had adequately investigated the issue. 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's assertion was given a boost in March by the House Intelligence Committee Republicans, who also stated in their report that they had no evidence of collusion between members of Trump's team and Russian officials.

Trump and his associates are the focus of an FBI investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow to influence the election - something the president and his allies have vehemently denied.

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. Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, has also been charged with over 20 counts; he has pleaded not guilty. The committee said the difference in confidence levels was "reasonable, transparent, and openly debated" between the agencies.

There was a slight disagreement on the pro-Trump issue... with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency saying they have "high confidence" and the NSA having "moderate confidence".

Tuesday's report faulted the ICA for not including an updated assessment on how Russian Federation uses its state media outlets to push its agenda.

Senate investigators also rejected the notion that the ICA was inappropriately influenced by politics, as some of Trump's supporters have alleged.



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