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Collins, King say conclusion that Russia interfered in 2016 election should be a ‘wake-up call’ for all Americans

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in its final report that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump.
Credit: Photos: AP

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its fifth and final report of the Committee’s Russia investigation, which examined Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The Committee, which Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins serve on, concluded Russia launched an aggressive effort to interfere in the election on behalf of Donald Trump.

The investigation spanned more than three years, heard from more than 200 witnesses, and reviewed more than a million pages of documents, the senators say.

Kings says the final report should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans ahead of the 2020 election.

“As we approach the 2020 elections, the results of our bipartisan investigation into Russia’s campaign to interfere in our democratic process should be a wake-up call for all Americans,” King said in a statement. “This report provides clear and unambiguous facts about the Trump campaign and how it opened the door to a devastating Russian active measures operation.”

RELATED: Senate panel concludes Russia interfered in 2016 US election

Collins says according to the intelligence community, the U.S. government and political parties are “much better prepared for foreign interference efforts than in 2016,” but says “additional action must be taken to safeguard our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy.”

“I believe all five volumes, but especially Volume 5, will serve for our government and historians as a critical, fact-based account of the events surrounding the 2016 election,” Collins said.

Though the report from the Senate intelligence committee does not reach a conclusion about whether the Trump campaign and Russia criminally conspired to sway the election, it nonetheless describes the eagerness of Trump associates to exploit the Kremlin's aid, particularly Democratic emails that were hacked by Russian military intelligence officers and disclosed by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the run-up to the election.

The report from the Republican-led panel lays out significant contacts between Trump associates and Russians, describing for instance a close professional relationship between Trump campaign chairman Paul Mananfort and Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the committee describes without equivocation as a Russian intelligence officer.

“This report provides clear and unambiguous facts about the Trump campaign and how it opened the door to a devastating Russian active measures operation,” King said. “For example, it shows that Paul Manafort, Chairman of the Trump Campaign at the time, was in close contact with an operative of the Russian government and shared detailed internal polling data that may have offered demographic targets for Russia’s bots and disinformation. It also shows that Mr. Manafort was not the only member of the Trump campaign that made our country vulnerable to foreign interference; although denying it at the time, Candidate Trump, his family, and some of his closest advisors had entered into personal and business entanglements with Russian oligarchs and other influencers that made them prime counterintelligence targets.”

King says many of these vulnerabilities still exist.

“This is why this report serves as a rear-view mirror but also a possible view of the road ahead of us as we enter another election cycle. The fact is that the findings of the committee – supported on a bipartisan basis – matter more at this moment in time than ever before,” King said.

Read the full reports here:

Collins' full statement:

“Volume 5 of SSCI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election cycle is an exhaustive look into Moscow's multifaceted effort to collect intelligence on the major parties and to undermine the public’s confidence in the electoral process. According to the intelligence community, our government and political parties are much better prepared for foreign interference efforts than in 2016, but additional action must be taken to safeguard our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy. This is why, for example, I cosponsored the Foreign Influence Reporting Elections (FIRE) Act, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, and the Secure Election Act, as well as supported an additional $425 million in election security funding in the FY20 budget. Completion of all five volumes in a bipartisan manner is a testament to the bipartisan traditions of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. I believe all five volumes, but especially Volume 5, will serve for our government and historians as a critical, fact-based account of the events surrounding the 2016 election.”

King's full statement:

“As we approach the 2020 elections, the results of our bipartisan investigation into Russia’s campaign to interfere in our democratic process should be a wake-up call for all Americans. This report provides clear and unambiguous facts about the Trump campaign and how it opened the door to a devastating Russian active measures operation. For example, it shows that Paul Manafort, Chairman of the Trump Campaign at the time, was in close contact with an operative of the Russian government and shared detailed internal polling data that may have offered demographic targets for Russia’s bots and disinformation. It also shows that Mr. Manafort was not the only member of the Trump campaign that made our country vulnerable to foreign interference; although denying it at the time, Candidate Trump, his family, and some of his closest advisors had entered into personal and business entanglements with Russian oligarchs and other influencers that made them prime counterintelligence targets. Many of these same vulnerabilities still exist today.

This is why this report serves as a rear-view mirror but also a possible view of the road ahead of us as we enter another election cycle. The fact is that the findings of the committee -- supported on a bipartisan basis – matter more at this moment in time than ever before. Rather than disavowing this threat, President Trump and his inner circle have denied the unambiguous facts laid out in the report and, inexplicably, continue to take actions that support the aims and ambitions of Vladimir Putin. Rather than passing commonsense legislation to require political campaigns to report to the appropriate authorities contacts from foreign nationals, the President and his allies have blocked these efforts from being added to the NDAA and becoming law; indeed the President himself has expressed an openness to foreign interference in a news interview from the Oval Office. And as the Intelligence Community assessed just a few weeks ago, Russia has updated its playbook and is now targeting Vice President Biden with its active measures – including through proxies who are spreading rumors to denigrate Biden and boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media. Mark Twain once said that history doesn’t always repeat itself but it often rhymes, especially for those who refuse to learn its lessons. We must learn from our past in order to prepare Americans for these ongoing efforts to undermine our democracy – this November and in the years ahead.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.