Senate investigation concludes Russia interfered in election to help Donald Trump

A powerful Senate committee has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump, breaking with the conclusion of a similar House probe.

“There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections,” said Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a statement issued with Mark Warner, its most senior Democrat. 

There was a trade. This explains the Senate Intelligence Committee Dems’ support for Haspel and the release of interview documents earlier today. This was what they got in exchange. I hope it was worth the cost.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that the intelligence community was correct in assessing that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election with the aim of helping then-candidate Donald Trump, contradicting findings House Republicans reached last month.

“Our staff concluded that the [intelligence community’s] conclusions were accurate and on point,” the panel’s vice chairman, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), said Wednesday in a joint statement with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman. “The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton,” Warner continued.

But that last determination — that Russia intended to help Trump — sets up a clash within the GOP over which record of events is most accurate, a dispute that could complicate the party’s messaging surrounding the Russia investigations as it heads into the 2018 election season. While the House Republicans’ report also concurred with the bulk of the intelligence community’s findings about Russian meddling, it accused officials of not following their own best practices in determining that Moscow hoped Trump would win.

Earlier today:

But for Warner, and for the Democrats who followed his lead to also announce their support for Haspel on Tuesday, it was enough.

“Ms. Haspel’s involvement in torture is deeply troubling, as my friend and colleague, John McCain, so eloquently reminded us. However, Ms. Haspel explained to me that the agency should not have employed such tactics in the past and has assured me that it will not do so in the future,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) wrote, adding that she “trust[ed] her word.”

Heitkamp is one of several senators contacted by former CIA chiefs working to support Haspel’s nomination. Former CIA Director John Brennan contacted her, Warner, and Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to urge them to vote for Haspel. Three of the four have declared their support. Similarly, former CIA Director Leon Panetta made a personal appeal to Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who also declared his support last week.

Edit: Also this.

The intensity with which Agalorov and his father, the billionaire Aras Agalarov, sought the Trump Tower meeting, which has become a key point of scrutiny for Congressional inquiries and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, was revealed in more than 2,500 pages of Congressional testimony and exhibits that were released by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning.

. . .

The excerpted testimony shows that attendees at the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting largely agreed with Trump Jr.’s long-standing contention that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, did not transmit dirt about Clinton. She has denied she was acting on behalf of the Russian government.

But the new information helps explain why Goldstone had written the candidate’s son before the meeting that Veselnitskaya would bring “very high level and sensitive information” that was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” — and why Trump Jr. responded, “if it is what you say, then I love it.”

The excerpts also shed light on the anxiety that rippled through President Trump’s orbit a year later, as news of the meeting became public and his aides and lawyers tried to manage the story.

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