By announcing a clear, bipartisan conclusion that Russian operatives aggressively tried to help elect Trump in 2016, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday dramatically undercut White House claims that the ongoing investigation represents a “witch hunt.”
Southern California’s Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is one of the move vocal White House supporters, regularly denying Russia was responsible for seeking to influence the 2016 election. Rohrabacher went so far as to call the American intelligence community “liars” in a recent interview. Yet this bipartisan conclusion exposes Rohrabacher’s cockamamie denial as the conspiracy theory it is.
The Senate account also demolishes the findings of the Republican House Intelligence report, released last month.
Widely seen as a partisan whitewashing designed to protect Trump, rather than a serious investigation into the facts, the House GOP report refused to endorse the findings of the U.S. intelligence community.
In 2017, intel officials confirmed that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had ordered an “influence campaign” intended “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process.” It added that the Russians eventually developed “a clear preference” for Trump, and in time “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” the Washington Post reported.
“Committee staff have spent 14 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work, and we see no reason to dispute the [intelligence community’s] conclusions,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections.”
Trump supporters in the House, like Rohrabacher, have been waging a ceaseless war against the FBI and the intelligence community in hopes of protecting the White House, refused to concede that Russians were trying to elect Trump.
But the unequivocal Senate report findings may very well finally change that.
“It’s the Republicans on the House panel who find themselves isolated in their position in what has become an increasingly antagonistic relationship with the FBI and Justice Department,” Politico reports. “The Senate panel’s findings now puts a significant seal of approval on the intelligence agencies’ work at a time when the FBI has been besieged by Trump allies who say bias inside the agencies marred their work on the Russia investigation.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee will release a full report after a declassification review by the intelligence community.
As for the all-important question of Trump-Russia collusion, the Committee hasn’t yet released its findings. But the collusion evidence has been hiding in plain sight for the last year.
We’ve known since last summer that Trump campaign officials eagerly accepted an invitation from Kremlin-connected attorney who promised to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
In fact, on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released thousands of pages of transcripts detailing the Trump Tower meeting. The documents highlight just how anxious the Trump team was to meet with a representative from a foreign adversary hoping to influence an American election.
Meanwhile, the bipartisan Senate conclusion creates more headaches for Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has been awkwardly trying to drum up support for the claim that the whole Russia inquiry represents a waste of time.
Specifically, Giuliani is pointing to this week’s one-year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment as proof that the probe has gone on too long.
Unfortunately for Giuliani, Senate Republicans only provided Mueller with more political cover.