WASHINGTON (Reuters)t - Below are key findings of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee’s final report released on Tuesday about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S presidential election in which Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The bipartisan report, three-and-a-half years in the making, found Russia used Republican political operative Paul Manafort, the WikiLeaks website and others to try to influence the 2016 election to help now-U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Russia has denied such interference.
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN
“The Committee found that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian effort to hack computer networks and accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and leak
information damaging to Hillary Clinton...”
“Moscow’s intent was 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.”
Paul Manafort, Trump’s one-time 2016 campaign chairman, engaged with a “Russian intelligence officer” named Konstantin Kilimnik and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, with whom it said Moscow coordinates foreign influence operations.
“On numerous occasions, Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information with Kilimnik...
“Manafort’s presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign.
“Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”
CONTINUED INTERFERENCE EFFORTS
Russian interference in U.S. politics has continued at least until January 2020.
The panel “observed numerous Russian-government actors from late 2016 until at least January 2020 consistently spreading overlapping false narratives which sought to discredit investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and spread false information about the events of 2016.”
Manafort and Kilimnik specifically sought to promote the claim that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.
WikiLeaks published thousands of emails hacked from Clinton’s campaign and a top aide, sparking extensive negative media coverage about the Democratic nominee before the 2016 vote.
“WikiLeaks actively sought, and played, a key role in the Russian influence campaign and very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort...”
“Trump and senior Campaign officials sought to obtain advance information about WikiLeaks’s planned releases through (Republican political operative) 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.
“Trump and the Campaign believed that Stone had inside information... The Committee could not reliably determine the extent of authentic, non-public knowledge about WikiLeaks that Stone obtained and shared with the Campaign.”
The committee found the FBI gave “unjustified credence” to a “dossier” of purportedly damaging information about Trump’s dealings with Russia prepared for Clinton Campaign lawyers by former British spy Christopher Steele.
The Committee made referrals to law enforcement about “potential criminal activity” it uncovered but an annex about these referrals was redacted in total.
Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Arshad Mohammed and Dan Grebler
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