Russia

The Senate Intelligence Committee — chaired by Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) — has officially sided with U.S. intelligence agencies in their assessment that Russia was working behind the scenes to help Donald Trump win the White House.

In a public statement issued on his official senate website, Burr said that after 16 months of investigation, the obvious conclusion is that Russia played a role in helping to elect President Trump while simultaneously discrediting his opponent.

“The Committee concurs with intelligence and open-source assessments that this influence campaign was approved by President Putin,” Sen. Burr wrote. “Further, a body of reporting, to include different intelligence disciplines, open source reporting on Russian leadership policy preferences, and Russian media content, showed that Moscow sought to denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton.”

“The Committee believes the conclusions of the [Intelligence Community Assessment] are sound,” Burr stated. “The Committee will remain vigilant in its oversight of the ongoing challenges presented by foreign nations attempting to secretly influence U.S. affairs.”

The “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ICA) Burr refers to throughout the report is from a January 2017 report issued by the Director of National Intelligence laying out how Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated an effort to undermine Americans’ confidence in their electoral system, plant seeds of distrust and division, elevate Donald Trump’s profile as a candidate, and attack Hillary Clinton’s record and career.

“Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency,” the ICA report read.

The conclusion of the Senate Intelligence Committee is starkly different than that of the House Intelligence Committee — which is chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California), who refused to recuse himself from the probe despite being on President Trump’s transition team. Rep. Nunes’ committee concluded in April that there was no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign, and that there was no evidence Putin wanted Trump to win.

Sen. Burr’s report is likely to help in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russians in order to win the 2016 election. Former Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen has apparently abandoned his joint defense agreement with President Trump, and is now represented by a former federal prosecutor. Cohen recently told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he believes Russia was working to influence the election, and criticized Trump’s attacks on the credibility of the investigation.

 

Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.

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