Less than two weeks before Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a private, one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report backing up the United States intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election — to help Trump win and cause Democrat Hillary Clinton to lose.
The Senate findings also come out five days after Trump’s most recent statement expressing skepticism over the intelligence community findings, as the Inquisitr reported, and seeming to take Putin’s side in the election meddling issue.
“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump declared in a Twitter post. “Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!”
But the Senate Committee, chaired by Republican Richard Burr, brushed aside the Russian denials and said that it fully endorsed the intelligence agencies’ investigation. Despite Trump’s claims that the investigations of Russian interference is a “witch hunt,” the committee report concluded that the earlier conclusion on Russian meddling by U.S. spy agencies was “a sound intelligence product,” CNN reported.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report is also a rebuke of an earlier report issued by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee — a committee run by close Trump associate Devin Nunes — that the intelligence community had made serious mistakes in its investigation of the 2016 election, according to a CNN Wire report.
The House committee claimed to find “significant intelligence tradecraft failings” in the investigation by the spy agencies, and also concluded that “no evidence” existed that members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russians during the election, according to Mother Jones magazine.
Democrats on the House committee rejected the Republican report, issuing a report of their own that was harshly critical of the House Republicans.
“A majority of the (House Republicans) report’s findings are misleading and unsupported by the facts and the investigative record,” the Democrats stated in their own report. “They have been crafted to advance a political narrative that exonerates the President, downplays Russia’s preference and support for then-candidate Trump, explains away repeated contacts by Trump associates with Russia-aligned actors, and seeks to shift suspicion towards President Trump’s political opponents and the prior administration.”
No such divisions on the Senate Intelligence Committee appeared to exist. The Senate report concluded that the intelligence investigation was carried out fairly, without political bias.
“In all the interviews of those who drafted and prepared the (Intelligence Community Assessment), the committee heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions,” the Senate committee report said. “All analysts expressed that they were free to debate, object to content, and assess confidence levels, as is normal and proper for the analytic process.”
Even as the Senate Committee backed up the intelligence community findings that Russia helped Trump win the 2016 election, Trump was moving ahead with plans for a meeting with Putin — the very man that the intelligence agencies and Senate Committee investigators say ordered the election hacking operation, according to a CBS News account.
While none of the official reports on Russian election meddling have included evidence or speculation about what Russia might have expected in return from Trump, for the help in getting him into the White House, Trump appears to be adopting policies not only friendly to Russia, but that seem to give Russia a pass for actions that have been widely condemned by leaders worldwide — such as Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, which Trump this week said he might consider officially recognizing, according to Bloomberg News.
Earlier in June, he appeared to endorse the annexation of Crimea, saying that Russia “spent a lot of money on rebuilding it,” as MSNBC reported.