Washington: The Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that the US intelligence community was correct in assessing that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the aim of helping then-candidate Donald Trump, contradicting findings House Republicans reached last month.
“We see no reason to dispute the [intelligence community’s] conclusions,” the committee’s chairman, Senator Richard Burr, a Republican, said on Wednesday in a joint statement with its vice chair, Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, who added: “Our staff concluded that the … conclusions were accurate and on point. The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.”
This marks the second of four interim findings the intelligence committee has said it will publicise before tackling the more consequential question of whether Trump and his associates colluded with Russia to influence the election’s outcome, allegations the president has denied and sought to discredit. The committee, which earlier this month released related findings on election security, is expected to publish a comprehensive final report this fall.
Wednesday’s announcement comes amid growing Republican scrutiny of the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team also is examining whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Kremlin and if the president obstructed justice in a bid to limit the probe’s scope.
The Senate committee’s findings clash with the House GOP’s determination that the intelligence community did not follow its own best practices in concluding the Kremlin favoured Trump in the election. The dispute – and the questions it now raises about which record of events is most accurate – could complicate the Republican Party’s messaging heading into the 2018 election season.