The Senate Intelligence Committee announced Friday that it will probe the involvement of Russian intelligence agencies in the 2016 election, including possible ties between Russia and advisers to President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign.
The committee’s investigation now appears to contradict Chairman Richard Burr’s (R-NC) earlier assertion that he would not investigate advisers to Trump’s campaign.
“We believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States,” Burr and committee vice chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D -VA) said in a joint statement Friday.
Under investigation, the statement says, are the practices of the U.S. intelligence community, “any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns,” and Russian cyber activity and other “active measures” aimed at the United States during the election and more broadly.
“[W]e have every reason to believe that commitment will be honored by the incoming administration,” the statement says, before noting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “have made it clear they expect any investigation into Russia’s involvement in our nation’s elections to be conducted in a bipartisan manner.”
The statement specifies two reports from the U.S. intelligence community that it said raised “profound concerns”: the Oct. 7, 2016 joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Jan. 6 report of this year issued by the ODNI and the CIA.
Both reports found that Russian-backed agents stole emails from Democratic groups and individuals. The latter report found that the hacking effort was carried out under Vladimir Putin’s orders, “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
In a separate individual statement, Warner noted that while the committee was “clearly best positioned” to carry out the investigation, “whoever does this needs to do it right. If it turns out that SSCI cannot properly conduct this investigation, I will support legislation to empower whoever can do it right.”