Senate investigation concludes Russia interfered in election to help Donald Trump - breaking with conclusion of House probe

The committee said operation was ordered by Vladimir Putin

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Wednesday 16 May 2018 08:35 EDT
Donald Trump insists 'no collusion' after Michael Flynn admits lying to FBI

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.

“The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.”

The findings of the committee, one of several probes into alleged interference in the election, which has been denied by Russia, were in line with the general conclusion of the US intelligence community.

However, they differed from those of the House Intelligence Committee, which released its own findings last month and the suggestion Mr Putin had acted to benefit Mr Trump.

Mr Trump quickly seized on the House committee’s findings, tweeting at the time: “House Intelligence Committee rules that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump Campaign and Russia.

“As I have been saying all along, it is all a big hoax by the Democrats based on payments and lies. There should never have been a Special Counsel appointed. Witch Hunt!”

Donald Trump Jr defends meeting with Russian lawyer

In contrast, the Senate committee’s findings suggested it had few doubts about Moscow’s alleged intentions.

“After a thorough review, our staff concluded that the [Intelligence Community Assessment] conclusions were accurate and on point,” Mr Warner said.

“The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton.”

The Senate committee has been investigating Russia’s alleged interference plot for more than a year. It released its findings as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his own probe into the issue, along with alleged collusion by the Trump campaign.

Earlier on Wednesday, the committee had released up to 2,500 documents from its investigation, among them details of testimony of Mr Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, who told senators he “could not remember” if he told his father about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Mr Trump Jr has said he attended the meeting because he was told the Kremlin-linked lawyer had “damaging material” about Hillary Clinton.

The senators met with former NSA director Mike Rogers, former CIA director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper earlier on Wednesday, The Hill reported.

The committee had also invited former FBI director James Comey to attend, though he ultimately declined.

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