Two months ago, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee abruptly ended their absurd investigation into the Russia scandal and released a document that echoed the White House’s talking points. One of their conclusions was especially jarring.
While U.S. intelligence professionals concluded that Russian operatives launched their 2016 intelligence operation in order to help put Donald Trump in power, these House GOP lawmakers decided to reject this politically inconvenient conclusion. To hear them tell it, the evidence showed that Vladimir Putin simply wanted to sow discord, and didn’t prefer the Republican ticket over the Democratic one.
Fortunately, their Senate counterparts were more responsible. The Washington Post reported this afternoon:
The Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that the intelligence community was correct in assessing that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election with the aim of helping then-candidate Donald Trump, contradicting findings House Republicans reached last month.
“Our staff concluded that the [intelligence community’s] conclusions were accurate and on point,” the panel’s vice chairman, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), said Wednesday in a joint statement with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman. “The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton,” Warner continued.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation is ongoing, and today’s determination does not address the collusion question. It does, however, acknowledge the reality that Putin specifically backed the Republican ticket during Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Which isn’t going to please Trump. Indeed, he’s invested considerable energy in trying to convince people not to believe their lying eyes – because in the president’s mind, Russia actually wanted Clinton to win, notwithstanding the Russian efforts to make sure she lost.
As for House Republicans, to the extent that they’re still paying attention to developments in this story, it’s unlikely Devin Nunes and his cohorts will take kindly to the Senate Intelligence Committee making them appear foolish.
Asked last week about the findings of the GOP members of the House Intelligence panel, Richard Burr told reporters, “I’m not sure that the House was required to substantiate every conclusion with facts.”