Senate Intelligence Committee says Russia helped Trump

Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with Russians in June 2016.

The Senate Intelligence Committee contradicted Republicans on House Intelligence Committee by saying Russia helped Trump win the 2016 election.

“There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections,” said Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a statement issued with Senator Mark Warner, its most senior Democrat.

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

The findings of the committee, one of several probes into Kremlin  plots to influence U.S. politics. interference in the election, which has been denied by Russia, lined up with the US intelligence community’s conclusion.

The Senate findings differed from those of the House Intelligence Committee, which released a report last month signed only by Republicans dismissing the assertion Putin ordered to spies to help Trump.

Trump quickly seized on the House committee’s findings, tweeting at the time: “House Intelligence Committee rules that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump Campaign and Russia.

“As I have been saying all along, it is all a big hoax by the Democrats based on payments and lies. There should never have been a Special Counsel appointed. Witch Hunt!”

In contrast, the Senate committee’s report suggested it had few doubts about Moscow’s alleged intentions.

“After a thorough review, our staff concluded that the [Intelligence Community Assessment] conclusions were accurate and on point,” Warner said. “The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.”

The Senate panel, which has been investigating Russia’s plot for more than a year, released its findings as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues own probe into Russian meddling, potential collusion by the Trump campaign and possible obstruction of justice.

On Wednesday, the committee released about 2,500 documents from its investigation, among them details of testimony of Donald Trump Jr, who told senators he “could not remember” if he told his father about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

In addition to his son, Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met in June 2016, with Veselnitskaya and several other Russians, including a former Soviet Army counter intelligence officer.

Trump’s eldest son said he attended the meeting because he was told the Kremlin-linked lawyer had “damaging material” about Hillary Clinton.

Warner was among a handful of Senate Democrats voting to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director, Trump’s pick for the post, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin.

Haspel attracted controversy for her 2002 role as chief of a CIA secret prison in Thailand, where as part of the US government’s extraordinary rendition program, prisoners were tortured. She was also involved in the unauthorized destruction of videotapes that documented the CIA’s use of torture during the interrogation two detainees.

 


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