Even Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee can't deny that Russia interfered to help elect Trump.
Undermining Trump's frequent denials, the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday unambiguously supported the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia was trying to help elect Trump when it interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
In a report summarizing the committee's review of the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), the Senate panel concluded that the findings of the intelligence community were "well-supported" and "the tradecraft was strong."
"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," Richard Burr (R-NC), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
The unclassified summary, which was released just two weeks ahead of Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, explains why the Senate panel agrees with the intelligence community that Russia's goal was to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign.
The findings are part of a series of reports from the Senate panel, with more expected to be released in the future.
The committee said the ICA looked at public Russian leadership commentary, Russian state media reports, public examples where Russian interests aligned with candidates' policy statements, and "a body of intelligence reporting to support the assessment that Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for Trump."
It also rejects the assertion made by Trump and his allies that the findings in the ICA were influenced by politics.
After reviewing "thousands of pages of documents" and conducting interviews "with all the relevant parties — including agency heads, managers, and line analysts — who were involved in developing the analysis and drafting the assessment," the committee said it "heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions."
Furthermore, the report says, "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."
In another direct repudiation of claims made by Trump and his allies, the Senate intel panel concluded that the so-called Steele dossier did not influence the ICA's analysis or conclusions.
"All individuals the Committee interviewed verified that the dossier did not in any way inform the analysis in the ICA — including the key findings — because it was unverified information and had not been disseminated as serialized intelligence reporting."
The report flatly rejects Trump's frequent attempts to undermine the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community. As recently as last week, Trump indicated in a tweet that he believed Putin's denials that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.
The Senate panel's bipartisan assessment also discredits the GOP-led House intel committee's sham report on Russian interference, which was released after an incomplete and biased investigation led by Trump apologist Devin Nunes.
House intel Republicans ended their Russia investigation in March, declaring that they found no evidence of wrongdoing, no collusion, and no crimes committed by anyone they interviewed or investigated. They also broke with the intelligence community and said Russia had not attempted to help Trump win the election.
In its report, the GOP House intel panel also claimed it has identified "significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategic objectives for disrupting the U.S. election" — a claim that was rebuked by the Senate committee.
While Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee may have wanted to declare 'case closed,' Tuesday's bipartisan Senate report makes it clear that the matter is far from over.
The Senate report even notes that the committee found additional evidence regarding certain aspects of Russia's operation, including "a far more extensive Russian effort to manipulate social media outlets to sow discord and to interfere in the 2016 election and American society."
Furthermore, the committee says it has "learned more about Russian attempts to infiltrate state election infrastructure" since the ICA report was published in January 2017.
The new report puts even more pressure on Trump to bring up Russia's interference during his meeting with Putin on July 16. Of course, we already know Trump won't stand up to Putin — and these findings make his refusal to defend America even more inexcusable.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.