by Chuck Ross
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is endorsing a January 2017 report from three intelligence community agencies that found the Russian government, with the approval of Vladimir Putin, attempted to influence the 2016 election.
The Senate panel released a summary report on Tuesday, two weeks before President Trump is poised to meet with Putin in Finland.
“The Committee finds that the overall judgments issued in the [Intelligence Community Assessment] were well-supported and the tradecraft was strong,” reads the Senate Intel’s unclassified summary report.
“The course of the Committee’s investigation has shown that the Russian cyber operations were more extensive than the hack of the Democratic National Committee and continued well through the 2016 election.”
On Jan. 6, 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report known as the Intelligence Community Assessment [ICA] that reviewed Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.
In the ICA, the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency (NSA), all determined with a high degree of confidence that the Russian government was behind email hacks aimed at Democrats during the campaign. Putin also approved of the influence campaign, the ICA said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, which began investigating Russian meddling on Jan. 10, 2017, says in its new report that it “concurs with intelligence and open-source assessments that this influence campaign was approved by President Putin.”
The ICA acknowledged differences in the confidence levels between the NSA and the CIA and FBI regarding whether “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances.” The FBI and CIA issued an assessment with “high confidence” that Putin sought to help Trump while the NSA expressed “moderate confidence.”
President Trump has at times questioned the ICA’s findings, saying that the assessment is part of an effort to delegitimize his win over Hillary Clinton. But the Senate report backs up the intelligence community agencies, saying that they were not influenced by politics.
The Senate report says that the differences in degrees of confidence were “reached in a professional and transparent manner.”
“In all the interviews of those who drafted and prepared the ICA, the Committee heard consistently that analysts were under no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions,” the report states.
The Intelligence Committee plans to release additional reports about different components of its investigation, including whether members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government.
The future reports will address the Steele dossier, the Democrat-funded document that is the source for most of the collusion allegations.
“The Committee will address the contents of the reports and their handling by the United States Government in a separate part of its report,” Tuesday’s summary report states.
“The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions,” North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the committee, said in a statement.
Burr said that the report will be followed by additional reports about other aspects of the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling, including whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Kremlin operatives.
“As numerous intelligence and national security officials in the Trump administration have since unanimously re-affirmed, the ICA findings were accurate and on point. The Russian effort was extensive and sophisticated, and its goals were to undermine public faith in the democratic process, to hurt Secretary Clinton and to help Donald Trump,” said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate committee.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Chuck on Twitter.