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Backing Intelligence Agencies, U.S. Senate Panel Says Russia Interfered in 2016 Election to Help Trump Win

Breaking with their House Republican counterparts, the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the intelligence community properly concluded in January of last year that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to help Donald Trump when Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

President Donald J. Trump participates in a meeting with the Prime Minster of The Netherlands, Mark Rutte, at The White House on July 2, 2018. Credit: Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

The Senate panel released a summary Tuesday of its examination of the intelligence community’s January 2017 assessment, which laid out the case of Russia’s election meddling and concluded that Putin was trying to help Trump win.

The Senate report said that the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s intentions were sound, which is at odds with the House Intelligence Committee Republicans’ report that found “significant intelligence tradecraft failings” in the assessment of Putin’s objectives.

“The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement, reiterating what he had initially said in May.

The unclassified summary released on Tuesday provides details on why the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed with the intelligence community that Russia was trying to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The conclusion has been affirmed by Trump’s entire national security team, but the President himself has repeatedly refused to state that Russia was meddling to help him.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump tweeted last week.

Trump’s assertion was given a boost in March by the House Intelligence Committee Republicans, who also stated in their report that they had no evidence of collusion between members of Trump’s team and Russian officials.

The House committee wrote that it “identified significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA (Intelligence Community Assessment) judgments regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic objectives for disrupting the U.S. election.”

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee charged that the Republican investigation was intended to help protect Trump, not uncover collusion, and they have questioned the Republicans’ findings about the intelligence community report.

The Senate Intelligence Committee reached a different conclusion that has bipartisan support, which found that the assessment was “a sound intelligence product.”

The committee said that the intelligence community assessment relied on public Russian leadership commentary, Russian state media reports, public examples where Russian interests aligned with US candidate policy statements, and “a body of intelligence reporting to support the assessment that Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for Trump.”

The Senate summary noted there were different confidence levels between the National Security Agency and the CIA and FBI about whether Putin and the Russian government were aspiring to help Trump; the CIA and FBI assessed with “high confidence” and the NSA with “moderate confidence.” But the committee wrote that its examination found that “the analytical disagreement was reasonable, transparent, and openly debated among the agencies and analysts, with analysts, managers, and agency heads on both sides of the confidence level articulately justifying their positions.”

“In all the interviews of those who drafted and prepared the ICA, the committee heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions,” the committee wrote. “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.”