Politics

Senate Probe Continues to Back Up Intelligence on Trump-Russia

Latest update affirms ‘sound’ conclusions of the intelligence community

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr and Vice Chairman Mark Warner released their latest findings on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Intelligence Committee continues to back up the findings of the intelligence community about Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, according to a new update.

In a new document on the panel’s progress, the Intelligence Committee also said it would release its review of the U.S. government’s handling of the so-called “Dossier” in a future part of its investigation.

The update includes a finding of inconsistency in confidence level between the National Security Agency, and the FBI and CIA with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to help the prospects for electing Donald Trump by denigrating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“The Committee found that the analytical disagreement was reasonable, transparent, and openly debated among the agencies and analysts, with analysts, managers, and agency heads on both sides of the confidence level articulately justifying their positions,” the committee wrote in Tuesday afternoon update of its still-ongoing review of actions taken by Russia.

The FBI and CIA had “high confidence” about the findings around Russian desire to help elect Trump by attacking Clinton, while the NSA expressed “moderate confidence” about the same.

The bipartisan leaders of the Intelligence Committee said the review would continue.

“As numerous intelligence and national security officials in the Trump administration have since unanimously re-affirmed, the ICA findings were accurate and on point. 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,” Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a statement. “While our investigation remains ongoing, we have to learn from 2016 and do more to protect ourselves from attacks in 2018 and beyond.”

The panel decided to release its latest update, reaffirming the process by which the intelligence community developed its assessment, less than two weeks before Trump and Putin are scheduled to hold a summit in Helsinki. It also comes just after a contingent of Republican senators met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

Intelligence Committee members and staff have been reviewing documents and interviewing people involved in developing the reporting.

“In all the interviews of those who drafted and prepared the ICA, the Committee heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusion,” the committee said Tuesday.

On the legislative side, it was just a week ago that the committee advanced a two-year authorization for intelligence programs including language designed to bolster election security, including improving information-sharing with state and local election officials.

Future updates on the Russian interference probe should be released in the not-too-distant future, Chairman Richard M. Burr said in a statement.

“The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions,” the North Carolina Republican said. “The Committee continues its investigation and I am hopeful that this installment of the Committee’s work will soon be followed by additional summaries providing the American people with clarity around Russia’s activities regarding U.S. elections.”

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