Tuesday 20th November 2018

5 Takeaways From The House Report On Russian Election Meddling

- April 28, 2018

The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee released on Friday the results of its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, and Democrats issued a dissenting report. The accounts reached dueling interpretations of a litany of information about contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians.

Here are five takeaways:

No Evidence of Collusion — or a Failure to Search for It?

One after another, the Republican report explains away links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. It declares that the committee “did not find any evidence of collusion, conspiracy, or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

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But in their dissent, Democrats argued that the Republicans’ conclusion was not credible. They said the investigation ended prematurely, and they accused Republicans of failing to interview key witnesses, to force others to answer questions or to subpoena important documents.

“As with so many of the majority’s findings, the majority did not uncover evidence because it refused look for any,” the Democratic report said.

Russia Didn’t Want Trump to Win — or Did It?

The intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government carried out an influence campaign targeting the 2016 election, and the House committee largely agreed. But its majority raised doubts about one key finding of intelligence agencies: that the Russian government wanted to help Donald J. Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, rather than just to sow discord.

Those “judgments regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic objectives for disrupting the U.S. election,” the Republicans wrote, “failed to meet longstanding standards.” But they offered no analysis or evidence supporting that claim, instead alluding vaguely to still-classified matters and saying the committee would put out additional material later.

Some Right-Wing Takes Get a Congressional Imprimatur — But Not All of Them

The Republican report echoed several talking points circling among Mr. Trump’s allies on conservative news and opinion outlets. For example, the report dovetails with the script-flipping narrative that a dossier alleging complicity between Trump associates and Russia compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, was itself a Russian plot.

But the majority report said that the intelligence case for attributing the email theft to Russians was “significant” and that it had found “no credible evidence,” including in still-classified intelligence reports, supporting the alternative theory of “an insider.”

Pro-Trump Statements Are Portrayed as Credible and His Opponents With Skepticism

The Republican report was often skeptical in tone about statements and testimony by people who put forward information that could be damaging to Mr. Trump, and more credulous about statements in his favor. For example, when discussing Mr. Steele, the Republican report uses suspicious terms, like saying he “claimed” to have obtained his allegations from “purported” high-level Russian sources.

An Attack on Leaks, and James Clapper

The Republican report is scathing about leaks to the news media that have brought to light various information about Trump-Russia contacts. Against that backdrop, it declares that James R. Clapper Jr.,

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