Se­nate panel: Rus­sia tried to help Trump

Bi­par­ti­san in­quiry aligns with in­tel­li­gence agencies

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Erin Kelly

WASH­ING­TON – The Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee — in a ma­jor split with its House coun­ter­part — said Wed­nes­day that it agrees with U.S. in­tel­li­gence agencies’ as­sess­ment that the Russian gov­ern­ment tried to help Don­ald Trump and hurt Hil­lary Clin­ton by med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion.

The bi­par­ti­san con­clu­sion was an­nounced by Chair­man Richard Burr, RN.C., and Vice Chair­man Mark Warner, D-Va., in a state­ment af­ter a closed hear­ing with for­mer na­tional in­tel­li­gence di­rec­tor James Clap­per, for­mer CIA di­rec­tor John Bren­nan and for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency di­rec­tor Mike Rogers.

The Se­nate com­mit­tee’s agree­ment with the in­tel­li­gence agencies stands in stark con­trast to the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, where the Re­pub­li­can ma­jor­ity dis­puted the con­clu­sion that the Rus­sians tried to help Trump de­feat Clin­ton.

“The first task in our in­quiry was to eval­u­ate the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s work on this im­por­tant piece of anal­y­sis,” Burr said, re­fer­ring to a re­port in Jan­uary 2017 by U.S. agencies.

“Com­mit­tee staff have spent 14 months re­view­ing the sources, trade­craft and an­a­lytic work, and we see no rea­son to dispute the con­clu­sions,” Burr said. “There is no doubt that Rus­sia un­der­took an un­prece­dented ef­fort to in­ter­fere with our 2016 elec­tions.”

Warner said the com­mit­tee’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed the in­tel­li­gence agencies did “a very good job” in a short time in as­sess­ing Rus­sia’s ac­tions and mo­tives for med­dling in the elec­tion.

“The Russian ef­fort was ex­ten­sive, so­phis­ti­cated and or­dered by (Russian) Pres­i­dent (Vladimir) Putin him­self for the pur­pose of help­ing Don­ald Trump and hurt­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton,” he said.

“In or­der to pro­tect our democ­racy from fu­ture threats, we must un­der­stand what hap­pened in 2016,” Warner said. “And while our com­mit­tee’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­mains on­go­ing, one thing is al­ready abun­dantly clear — we have to do a bet­ter job in the fu­ture if we want to pro­tect our elec­tions from for­eign in­ter­fer­ence.”

Re­pub­li­cans on the House com­mit­tee said U.S. in­tel­li­gence agencies failed to prove their con­clu­sion that Putin tried to help Trump beat Clin­ton. Clin­ton ques­tioned the le­git­i­macy of Russian elec­tions while she was sec­re­tary of State, an­ger­ing Putin.

Re­pub­li­cans on the House com­mit­tee ended their in­quiry in March af­ter con­clud­ing there was no col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and the Krem­lin. Democrats strongly dis­agreed and con­tin­ued to in­ves­ti­gate on their own.

“I fully con­cur with the con­clu­sion of the bi­par­ti­san lead­ers of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that the de­ter­mi­na­tion that Rus­sia sought to help the Trump cam­paign, hurt Hil­lary Clin­ton and sow dis­cord in the United States is fully sup­ported by the ev­i­dence,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia, the se­nior Demo­crat on the House com­mit­tee.

The Se­nate com­mit­tee is still look­ing into whether there was col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and the Rus­sians.

“There is no doubt that Rus­sia un­der­took an un­prece­dented ef­fort to in­ter­fere with our 2016 elec­tions.” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. Chair­man of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee

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