Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 20 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 20 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Senate committee: Russia did interfere in 2016 elections

“The issue of collusion is still open” and would not be resolved until the committee’s work was done.

  • Karoun Demirjian The Washington Post
  • Wednesday, October 4, 2017 12:50pm
  • Nation-World

By Karoun Demirjian / The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday largely endorsed the findings of the intelligence community that Russia sought to sway the 2016 U.S. elections through a hacking and influence campaign, and they called for a “more aggressive, whole-of-government approach” to ensure future elections are not similarly compromised.

“There is consensus among members and staff that we trust the conclusions of the ICA,” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee’s chairman, said at Wednesday news conference, referring to the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was behind hackings of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign director John Podesta’s email account and had attempted to exploit public opinion by sowing false information, much of it through fake social media accounts.

“But we don’t close our consideration of it,” he added.

Burr also said that “the issue of collusion is still open” and would not be resolved until the committee’s work was done. He said that a deadline for the committee was the looming start of the 2018 primary season.

“We’ve got to make our facts, as it related to Russia’s involvement in our election, before the primaries getting started in 2018,” Burr said.

“You can’t walk away from this and believe that Russia’s not currently active,” he added.

Burr and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the committee’s vice chairman, said the committee has interviewed more than 100 people and reviewed more than 100,000 documents, many of them from the intelligence community, President Trump’s inner circle and former members of the Obama administration. In some areas of the investigation, Burr added, investigators had “exhausted every individual” they could speak with in several areas of the probe — such as an April 2016 meeting at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Burr said the committee had interviewed seven people about that meeting and that “the testimony of all seven were consistent.”

He said the committee had also “interviewed every person” that was involved in drafting the Republican campaign platform, suggesting that investigators had found no evidence of nefarious activity by Trump campaign officials in fashioning that platform to support a “strong ally in Ukraine, but also leave the door open for better relations with Russia.”

Burr also told reporters that the committee had “hit a wall” in attempting to verify the details of a salacious dossier about Trump’s alleged exploits in Russia, mostly because its author, former British spy Christopher Steele, had rebuffed the committee’s efforts to speak with him about his sources and about who paid for the compilation of the report.

“I can compel you to come,” Burr said, as a warning to any potential witnesses who might not want to comply with the committee’s investigation. But Burr later said that he had no such leverage over Steele, a British citizen, and could only threaten that the committee’s report “won’t be flattering” as it relates to him if he refuses to cooperate.

The committee has also scheduled an additional 25 interviews for this month, Burr added. Google executives, who have also been invited to testify publicly before the committee on Nov. 1, are expected to be among those asked to attend the closed-door interviews that have been scheduled in October.

The committee has lately been focusing on the role social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter played in the dissemination of false or misleading ads and stories planted or otherwise backed by Russian operatives.

Warner said that the tech giants were beginning to take the issue of Russian meddling more seriously and that the committee was “seeing increasing levels of cooperation.”

“I was concerned at first that some of these social media companies did not take this threat seriously,” Warner said. “I believe they are recognizing that threat now.”

The committee recently received over 3,000 advertisements from Facebook detailing the content of ads Russia had purchased to appear on the platform during the election.

Burr added that the committee would not release the content of those ads, though he added that the committee would be “fine” with any of the social media companies choosing to release the content of documents and other information they had turned over to the committee themselves.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Nation-World

FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II looks on during a visit to officially open the new building at Thames Hospice, Maidenhead, England July 15, 2022. Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II is under medical supervision as doctors are “concerned for Her Majesty’s health.” The announcement comes a day after the 96-year-old monarch canceled a meeting of her Privy Council and was told to rest. (Kirsty O'Connor/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Queen Elizabeth II dead at 96 after 70 years on the throne

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century died Thursday.

A woman reacts as she prepares to leave an area for relatives of the passengers aboard China Eastern's flight MU5735 at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, in Guangzhou. No survivors have been found as rescuers on Tuesday searched the scattered wreckage of a China Eastern plane carrying 132 people that crashed a day earlier on a wooded mountainside in China's worst air disaster in more than a decade. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
No survivors found in crash of Boeing 737 in China

What caused the plane to drop out of the sky shortly before it was to being its descent remained a mystery.

In this photo taken by mobile phone released by Xinhua News Agency, a piece of wreckage of the China Eastern's flight MU5735 are seen after it crashed on the mountain in Tengxian County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Monday, March 21, 2022. A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in a remote mountainous area of southern China on Monday, officials said, setting off a forest fire visible from space in the country's worst air disaster in nearly a decade. (Xinhua via AP)
Boeing 737 crashes in southern China with 132 aboard

More than 15 hours after communication was lost with the plane, there was still no word of survivors.

In this photo taken from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. Street fighting broke out in Ukraine's second-largest city Sunday and Russian troops put increasing pressure on strategic ports in the country's south following a wave of attacks on airfields and fuel facilities elsewhere that appeared to mark a new phase of Russia's invasion. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Ukraine wants EU membership, but accession often takes years

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request has enthusiastic support from several member states.

FILE - Ukrainian servicemen walk by fragments of a downed aircraft,  in in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. The International Criminal Court's prosecutor has put combatants and their commanders on notice that he is monitoring Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. But, at the same time, Prosecutor Karim Khan acknowledges that he cannot investigate the crime of aggression. (AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak, File)
ICC prosecutor to open probe into war crimes in Ukraine

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet confirmed that 102 civilians have been killed.

FILE - Refugees fleeing conflict from neighboring Ukraine arrive to Zahony, Hungary, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians seek refuge in neighboring countries, cradling children in one arm and clutching belongings in the other, leaders in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania are offering a hearty welcome. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi, File)
Europe welcomes Ukrainian refugees — others, less so

It is a stark difference from treatment given to migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

Afghan evacuees disembark the plane and board a bus after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. North Macedonia has hosted another group of 44 Afghan evacuees on Wednesday where they will be sheltered temporarily till their transfer to final destinations. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
‘They are safe here.’ Snohomish County welcomes hundreds of Afghans

The county’s welcoming center has been a hub of services and assistance for migrants fleeing Afghanistan since October.

FILE - In this April 15, 2019, file photo, a vendor makes change for a marijuana customer at a cannabis marketplace in Los Angeles. An unwelcome trend is emerging in California, as the nation's most populous state enters its fifth year of broad legal marijuana sales. Industry experts say a growing number of license holders are secretly operating in the illegal market — working both sides of the economy to make ends meet. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
In California pot market, a hazy line between legal and not

Industry insiders say the practice of working simultaneously in the legal and illicit markets is a financial reality.

19 dead, including 9 children, in NYC apartment fire

More than five dozen people were injured and 13 people were still in critical condition in the hospital.

15 dead after Russian skydiver plane crashes

The L-410, a Czech-made twin-engine turboprop, crashed near the town of Menzelinsk.

FILE - In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. Facebook prematurely turned off safeguards designed to thwart misinformation and rabble rousing after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 elections in a moneymaking move that a company whistleblower alleges contributed to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, invasion of the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram in hourslong worldwide outage

Something made the social media giant’s routes inaccessable to the rest of the internet.

Oil washed up on Huntington Beach, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. A major oil spill off the coast of Southern California fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Crews race to limited damage from California oil spill

At least 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of oil spilled into the waters off Orange County.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.