Fri, May 18, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Senate panel backs spies on Russian meddling


The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday said that it agrees with the US intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election to hurt the candidacy of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and help Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The conclusion is at odds with Republican members of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who said that while they agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to hamper Clinton’s campaign, that did not mean he wanted to help Trump.

The House committee said the intelligence agencies failed to use “proper analytic tradecraft” when they assessed Putin’s intentions.

Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate panel, said his staff spent 14 months “reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work” conducted by the intelligence agencies.

He said the committee uncovered no reason to dispute the conclusions of the intelligence assessment released last year.

Burr issued his statement after committee members met in a closed session with former US National Intelligence director James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan and former National Security Agency director Mike Rogers. All three were deeply involved in issuing the intelligence assessment of Russian meddling in the election.

“The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton,” said Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee. “In order to protect our democracy from future threats, we must understand what happened in 2016. And while our committee’s investigation remains ongoing, one thing is already abundantly clear: We have to do a better job in the future if we want to protect our elections from foreign interference.”

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee agreed.

Representative Adam Schiff said evidence fully supports the intelligence agencies’ determination that Russia sought to help the Trump campaign, hurt Clinton and sow discord in the US.

He refuted Republicans on the House committee who said Russia did not aim to assist Trump, saying they now stand in “lonely isolation.”

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