Senate intel committee: Russia interfered in election meddling

Senate intelligence committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (L) and ranking Democrat Sen. Mark Warner said Wednesday their panel's investigation has found efforts by Russia to interfere in last year's U.S. presidential election. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 4 (UPI) — Leaders of the U.S. Senate’s intelligence committee on Wednesday said its investigation has found that the Russian intelligence did meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and plans to interfere in future national elections.

Republican Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and ranking Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia disclosed the panel’s updated findings at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Wednesday afternoon.

“We are developing a clearer picture of what happened,” Burr told reporters. “What I will confirm is the Russian intelligence service is determined, clever, and I recommend that every campaign and every election official take this very seriously as we move into this November’s election, and as we move into preparation for the 2018 election.”

Burr said the investigation isn’t over yet, and that he hopes it will wind down “soon.” He noted the panel is still investigating possible collusion between President Donald Trump‘s campaign and the Kremlin.

“The issue of collusion is still open,” he said. “We continue to investigate both intelligence and witnesses. And we’re not in a position to come to any type of finding.”

Burr said committee has interviewed seven people related to a meeting in 2016 in New York City that included Donald Trump Jr., former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and White House adviser Jared Kushner, White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, as they supposedly sought damaging information from Russians on Hillary Clinton‘s campaign.

Burr said “we trust the conclusions” of the intelligence community on Russian meddling.

Warner said Russia’s aim was to “sow chaos and drive division in our country.”

Trump has repeatedly called the Russian campaign to interfere in the presidential election a “hoax” by Democrats.

Hackers attempted to access the voting systems of 21 states, according to the Department of Homeland Security. During the news conference, though, Burr said no vote totals were affected.

The Senate’s is one of three ongoing probes in the matter. The House’s intelligence committee and special counsel Robert Mueller are also investigating Trump staffers’ connections to Russians and possible collusion for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Burr added that his committee’s involvement in investigating memos sent by former FBI Director James Comey has likely ended.

“We have exhausted every person we can talk to” on those memos, which Comey released earlier this year after he was fired by Trump. They detailed Comey’s recollections of his discussions with the president.

The Senate panel also examined Russia’s use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook, which initially said its platforms played only minor roles in Russia’s disinformation efforts, has so far turned over thousands of involved advertisements to congressional investigators. Burr said the committee doesn’t plan to release those ads.

Burr also said investigators “hit a wall” on a dossier by British spy Christopher Steele — about potentially explosive, but unverified, allegations about Trump and his associates because he won’t talk to Senate investigators.

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