The Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday repudiated President Donald Trump’s denials that Russia interfered to help his 2016 campaign. But the release of the report—at around 3pm, just before the July 4 holiday—suggests that the Senate Republicans are eager to keep their differences with Trump out of the sunlight.
The committee noted the CIA and FBI had “high confidence” that Russia favored Trump.
The report comes five days after Trump seemed to endorse Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial, in the face of US intelligence agencies’ conclusions, that Russian interfered in the 2016 election: “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump tweeted on Thursday.
While Republicans in the House have openly aimed to discredit the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties, Tuesday’s seven-page report saw the Senate committee’s Republicans siding with US intelligence and law enforcement, including the FBI.
The report endorses the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, or ICA, finding Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 with the goals of undermining Americans’ faith in the democratic process and denigrating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The assessment also concludes that Russia “developed a clear preference for” Trump.
“The ICA is a sound intelligence product, ”
the committee says, noting it was produced after “reasonable, transparent and open” debate.
The committee said intelligence analysts they interviewed reported “no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions, ” and noted that the CIA and FBI had “high confidence” that Russia favored Trump, while the National Security Agency had “moderate confidence.”
The Senate report also rejects claims that the so-called Steele dossier—a set of memos by a former British intelligence agent—informed the intelligence community finding that Russia interfered in the election.
“All individuals the Committee interviewed verified that the dossier did not in any way inform the analysis in the ICA, ” the report says.
The report mentions the committee’s investigators reviewed evidence of “an extensive Russian effort to manipulate social media outlets” that goes beyond the ICA’s January report. It’s unclear if the reference is linked to a February 16, 2018 indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for crimes related to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll organization, or another matter.