Senate panel breaks with House, says Russia sought to help Trump win in 2016

Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that they agree with the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and sought to help President TrumpDonald John TrumpWH aides intentionally compose Trump tweets with grammatical mistakes: report Holder: DOJ, FBI should reject Trump's requests Ex-Trump campaign adviser rips claims of spy in campaign: It's 'embarrassing' MORE win the White House.

“We see no reason to dispute the conclusions,” Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate confirms Haspel to head CIA The Hill's Morning Report: Mueller probe hits one-year mark Divisions deepen as Mueller probe hits one year MORE (R-N.C.) said in a statement.

“There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections.”

ADVERTISEMENT
As part of its investigation into Russian meddling, the committee has for several months been reviewing the January 2017 assessment compiled by top U.S. intelligence officials.

The assessment found that Russia sought to interfere in the election for three reasons: to undermine U.S. democracy, to damage Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE and to help Trump win the White House. 

On Wednesday, committee lawmakers met behind closed doors with former top intelligence officials who played a major role in compiling the assessment. In a joint statement following that meeting, Burr and Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGun control debate shifts to hardening schools after Texas shooting Warner: Why doesn't Trump understand that it's illegal for other countries to interfere in US elections? Warner sees 'credible components' in report that foreign governments offered to aid Trump campaign MORE (D-Va.) signaled their agreement with the findings. 

“After a thorough review, our staff concluded that the [intelligence community assessment] conclusions were accurate and on point,” 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.” 

Their statement represents a break with the Republican-led House investigation, which did not support the conclusion that Russia sought to help Trump win.

However, some Republicans on the House Intelligence panel signaled disagreement with some of the final conclusions. Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyNunes says he won't meet with DOJ officials until they hand over documents Scalise: FBI needs to stop ‘running around on witch hunts’ Talk of unproven FBI 'plant' in Trump campaign circulates among Republicans MORE (R-S.C.) said in March that it was “clear, based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russia’s interference plot for more than a year. Burr told reporters earlier this month that he expects the inquiry to be completed by August. The House Intelligence Committee has also completed its own investigating.

Meanwhile, special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is spearheading the federal investigation into Russian interference — including whether their was coordination between President Trump's campaign and Moscow. 

The Senate panel has already released its initial findings on Russian cyberattacks against U.S. voting infrastructure, finding that Moscow conducted an “unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign” against the nation’s digital election systems. 

The senators met with former National Security Agency Director Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersSenate panel breaks with House, says Russia sought to help Trump win in 2016 Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns lawmakers with push to help Chinese company | Facebook suspends 200 apps over data practices | Dems want answers on Cohen payments | Senate net neutrality vote coming Wednesday Senate panel invites Comey, former officials to briefing in Russia probe MORE, former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFox's Bartiromo: DOJ, FBI, IRS, CIA 'were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump' Trump shares quote ripping Brennan: 'This guy is the genesis of this whole debacle' Voters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating MORE, and former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperFormer GOP Rep. Charlie Dent joins CNN Clapper: Trump’s tweet is a ’disturbing assault’ on DOJ independence Trump shares quote ripping Brennan: 'This guy is the genesis of this whole debacle' MORE earlier Wednesday.

The committee had also invited former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMystery in Mueller probe: Where’s the hacking indictment? Press: Why Trump should thank FBI Trump administration sued for not releasing FBI morale survey results MORE to attend, though he ultimately declined, citing a conflict. The former officials’ testimony is expected to inform the committee’s final report capping the Russia probe.

- Updated at 3:05 p.m.