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 TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE win the White House.

“We see no reason to dispute the conclusions,” Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNC Republican primary key test of Trump's sway The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Senate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill MORE (R-N.C.) said in a statement.

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

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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 ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book 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 WarnerAdvocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Democrats draw red lines in spending fight Manchin puts foot down on key climate provision in spending bill 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 GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy 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 (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 RogersAfter messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain Congress should control its appetite for legacy programs when increasing defense budget The Pentagon budget is already out of control: Some in Congress want to make it worse MORE, former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanStill in the game: Will Durham's report throw a slow curveball at key political players? UFOs are an intriguing science problem; Congress must act accordingly How transparency on UFOs can unite a deeply divided nation MORE, and former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperAfghanistan disaster puts intelligence under scrutiny Domestic security is in disarray: We need a manager, now more than ever Will Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? MORE earlier Wednesday.

The committee had also invited former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April 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.