Donald Trump

Russia aimed to help Trump in 2016 election, US Senate panel says, contradicting House Republicans

The determination that Russia intended to help Trump sets up a clash within the Republican Party over which record of events is most accurate, complicating the US 2018 election season

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2018, 2:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2018, 4:19am

The intelligence community was correct in assessing that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election with the aim of helping then-candidate Donald Trump, the Senate Intelligence Committee has determined, contradicting findings that House Republicans reached last month.

“Our staff concluded that the [intelligence community’s] conclusions were accurate and on point,” the panel’s vice chairman, Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, said Wednesday in a joint statement with its chairman, Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina. 

“The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton,” Warner continued.

But that last determination – that Russia intended to help Trump – sets up a clash within the Republican Party over which record of events is most accurate, a dispute that could complicate the party’s messaging surrounding the Russia investigations as it heads into the 2018 election season. 

While the report written by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee also concurred with the bulk of the intelligence community’s findings about Russian meddling, it accused intelligence analysts of not following their own best practices in determining that Moscow hoped Trump would win.

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Trump has taken umbrage at the intelligence community’s determination that the Kremlin favoured his candidacy over that of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

The president cheered the House Intelligence Committee’s findings and report on Twitter, claiming that it vindicated him by finding there was no evidence of collusion or coordination with Russia.

The Senate intelligence panel has yet to weigh in on the collusion allegations, a subject that will be left to its final report. 

But Burr and Warner have been dropping hints for days that their panel’s interim findings on the intelligence community would depart from those of the House Intelligence Committee Republicans. House Democrats also roundly disagreed with those findings.

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The committee’s review is not yet complete: On Wednesday, panel members huddled behind closed doors with former intelligence chiefs to discuss their impressions and conclusions. 

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan and former National Security Agency director Admiral Mike Rogers were in attendance. Former FBI director James Comey was also invited.