Donald Trump cries of “fake news” about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign to aid his election are… fake, a bi-partisan Senate investigation concluded.
The Senate Intelligence committee released its long-awaited report today (Feb. 21) on its probe into alleged Russian influence. It upheld the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia ran interference for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Contrary to Trump’s repeated claims that Russian interference was a “hoax,” the bi-partisan committee of Republicans and Democrats said the intelligence finding was based on “strong tradecraft” and “sound analytical reasoning.”
“The Committee found no reason to dispute the Intelligence Community’s conclusions,” GOP Committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement.
In another key finding, the panel found that the “information provided to the FBI in the so-called “Steele Dossier” by Christopher Steele was not used in the body of the intelligence community assessment or to support any of its analytic judgments.”
The heavily redacted report is the fourth in a series on Russian election interference. A fifth and final version is due that will document the committee’s investigation into contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives, according to CNN.
The latest findings dovetail with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian election interference.
The report concluded that Russian interference in the 2016 election was “sweeping and systemic.”
Major attack avenues included a social media “information warfare” campaign that “favored” Trump and the hacking of Clinton campaign-related databases and release of stolen materials through Russian-created entities and Wikileaks.
Russia also targeted databases in many states related to administering elections gaining access to information for millions of registered voters.
The investigation also yielded 37 indictments, seven guilty pleas or convictions and compelling evidence that the president obstructed justice on multiple occasions.
Mueller also uncovered and referred 14 criminal matters to other Department of Justice units. None of those investigations have surfaced since then under Attorney General William Barr, who is widely viewed as a Trump henchman.
Trump associates repeatedly lied to investigators about their contacts with Russians, and President Trump refused to answer questions about his efforts to impede federal proceedings and influence the testimony of witnesses.
A statement signed by over 1,000 former federal prosecutors concluded that if any other American engaged in the same efforts to impede federal proceedings the way Trump did, they would likely be indicted for multiple charges of obstruction of justice.
Trump has called various investigations “witch hunts.”
Given Trump’s stance, the administration And the Justice Department have done next to nothing to curb what is sure to be another Russian attempt to steer the 2020 election to Trump.
“There is certainly no reason to doubt that the Russians’ success in 2016 is leading them to try again in 2020, and we must not be caught unprepared,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, said in a statement.
In fact, Trump actively promoted a Russian disinformation campaign that sought to blame 2016 election interference on the Ukrainian government.
Trump also withheld crucial defense assistance in an effort to coerce Ukraine into falsely stating Democratic rival Joe Biden was under investigation.
Trump was impeached for his criminal activity, but acquitted by the Republican-dominated Senate.
Redacted sections of the report are thought to detail the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was trying to help Trump.
Still unanswered are questions raised by the Mueller report about Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s efforts in 2015 and 2016 during the election to seal a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Then-candidate Trump personally signed a letter of intent.
Senior members of the Trump campaign, including Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Jr., and Jared Kushner took a June 9, 2016, meeting with Russian nationals at Trump Tower in New York.
The meeting was based on information provided to Donald Trump, Jr., that the Russians had derogatory information on Clinton that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Beginning in June 2016, a Trump associate “forecast to senior [Trump] campaign officials that WikiLeaks would release information damaging to candidate Clinton.” That individual, Roger Stone, was subsequently convicted on seven counts, including witness tampering and lying to investigators.
He’s serving three years in prison.
The Mueller report described multiple occasions where Trump associates lied to investigators about Trump associate contacts with Russia.
Trump associates George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn and Cohen all admitted that they made false statements to federal investigators or to Congress about their contacts.
The Report contains no evidence that any Trump campaign official reported their contacts with Russia or WikiLeaks to U.S. law enforcement authorities during the campaign or presidential transition, as required by law. No action has been taken against any official.
The Report raised questions still unanswered questions about why Trump associates and then-candidate Trump repeatedly asserted Trump had no connections to Russia.