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Friday 21 September 2018

US senate committee agrees Russia backed Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton

The 2017 assessment by intelligence agencies had received more qualified backing from a House panel.

Donald Trump with Russian president Vladimir Putin (Evan Vucci/PA)
Donald Trump with Russian president Vladimir Putin (Evan Vucci/PA)

By Mary Clare Jalonick, Eric Tucker and Chad Day

The US Senate intelligence committee has said it agrees with a 2017 assessment by intelligence agencies that Russia intervened in the presidential election earlier to hurt the candidacy of Democrat Hillary Clinton and to help Donald Trump.

The conclusion is at odds with Republican members of the House intelligence committee, who said that while they agreed that Russian president Vladimir Putin wanted to hamper Mrs Clinton’s campaign, that did not mean he wanted to help Mr Trump.

The House committee said the intelligence agencies failed to use “proper analytic tradecraft” when they assessed Mr Putin’s intentions.

Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate panel, said his staff spent 14 months “reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work” conducted by the intelligence agencies. He said the committee uncovered no reason to dispute the conclusions of the intelligence assessment released in 2017.

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Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (J Scott Applewhite/AP)

Mr Burr issued his statement after members of the committee met in a closed session with former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan and former director of the National Security Agency, Mike Rogers.

All three were deeply involved in issuing the intelligence assessment of Russian meddling in the election.

“The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton,” said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee.

“In order to protect our democracy from future threats, we must understand what happened in 2016. And while our committee’s investigation remains ongoing, one thing is already abundantly clear: We have to do a better job in the future if we want to protect our elections from foreign interference.”

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee agreed.

Representative Adam Schiff of California said evidence fully supports the intelligence agencies’ determination that Russia sought to help the Mr Trump campaign, hurt Mrs Clinton and sow discord in the United States.

He refuted Republicans on the House committee who said Russia did not aim to assist Mr Trump, saying they now stand in “lonely isolation”.

Press Association

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