Senate Report: Trump Team Actions Interfered in Obama’s Diplomatic Effort

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

A report released today by the Republican-led intelligence committee concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a Russian hack of the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election in an effort to help Donald Trump become the president.

In the more than 1,000 page report, the committee finds that Putin intended to “harm the Clinton campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the Trump campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the U.S. democratic process.” In addition, the committee also found that “Trump and senior campaign officials sought to obtain advance information about WikiLeaks’ planned releases through Roger Stone. At their direction, Stone took action to gain inside knowledge for the campaign and shared his purported knowledge directly with Trump and senior campaign officials on multiple occasions.”

This is the fifth and final report regarding the Russia investigation. In it, the committee describes in detail Russia’s aggressive efforts to influence a U.S. election “with speed, precision, and scale not previously seen.” In particular, the report notes that various Trump associates, including Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulous, and Carter Page, sought to exploit the Kremlin’s aid and maximize the impact of the Russian military hack and subsequent leak of Democratic emails. In particular, “Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services … represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”

“The Transition Team repeatedly took actions that had the potential, and sometimes the effect, of interfering in the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts,” the report states. The actions taken by Trump’s transition team resulted in confusion among U.S. allies and may have caused Russia to defer a response to sanctions levied by the Obama administration.

In regards to the FBI’s handling of the situation, the committee found that that “certain procedures and actions in response to the Russian threat to the 2016 elections were flawed,” most notably the fact that the intelligence agency lacked a formal process for escalating its concerns within the DNC. While the committee stated that “the FBI operates with limited resources,” they found that the FBI should have escalated its communications with the DNC far sooner. In addition, the committee found that the FBI gave “unjustified credence” to the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, whose work was funded as opposition research by Democrats.

The Senate report purposely avoids coming to a final conclusion about whether there is enough evidence to support the accusations that Trump and his campaign colluded or coordinated with Russia. However, the report does state unequivocally that both Trump and his campaign staff sought to benefit from Russia’s actions.

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