Members “did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions” committed by Trump and Hillary campaigns.
The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee published the final report on the committee’s investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia during the election.
After a yearlong investigation, the members “found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”
However, the members “did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the” campaigns of Trump and failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:
For example, the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who falsely purported to have damaging information on the Clinton campaign demonstrated poor judgement. The Committee also found the Trump campaign’s periodic praise for and communications with Wikileaks-a hostile foreign organization-to be highly objectionable and inconsistent with U.S. national security interests. The Committee also found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure their roles, paid for opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russian government officials. Some of this opposition research was used to produce sixteen memos, which comprise what has become known as the Steele dossier.
The committee found that “Russia began engaging in a covert influence campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election” in 2015. President Vladimir Putin wanted the Russian government “to sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process.”
The cyberattacks Russia committed “highlighted technical vulnerabilities in U.S. digital infrastructure and bureaucratic shortcomings.” This allowed Russia to achieve “its primary goal of inciting division and discord among Americans.”
Unfortunately, the Americans government did not respond well to the attacks. We have highlighted this before at Legal Insurrection. The committee’s investigation found that as the FBI received information, it “was inconsistent in timeliness and quality” when it came to notifying victims and oversight committees. This caused victims to not act fast enough or recognize the attacks on their systems. The FBI didn’t do much at the state and local levels:
State and local governments were slow to grasp the seriousness of the threat and when notified of breaches continued to resist any action that implied federal direction or control. Some states opted not to cooperate with important defensive measures offered by the DHS. While no tabulation systems, or systems that count votes, were impacted, the overall security posture of the U.S. federal, state, and local governments was demonstrated to be inadequate and vulnerable.
I blogged in June 2017 that former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told Congress that the DNC turned down his department’s help with an investigation and opted for a private cybersecurity firm.
Johnson also expressed disappointment when he discovered the enormous of time between the hacking and the time his department found out. The Washington Times reported at the time:
Mr. Johnson added speculation to the ongoing scrutiny of fired FBI Director James B. Comey when he questioned the time delay between when the DNC and FBI first discussed Russian hacking — and when his department finally learned of the breach.
“The FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion,” he said.
Members of the committee remain worried that Russia will not stop these actions in the West.
Despite receiving a lot of information from the intelligence community, the GOP did not like how officials heavily redacted the documents. From Fox News:
While the committee posted a copy of the report online, investigation leader Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, complained about the heavy redactions made by the intelligence community.
“I am extremely disappointed with the overzealous redactions made by the IC. Many of the redactions include information that is publicly available, such as witness names and information previously declassified,” he said in a statement. “When we started this investigation, we set out to give the American people the answers to the questions they’ve been asking and we promised to be as transparent as possible in our final report. I don’t believe the information we’re releasing today meets that standard, which is why my team and I will continue to challenge the IC’s many unnecessary redactions with the hopes of releasing more of the report in the coming months.”
Conway took over the investigation in April 2017 from Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) after he stepped down when he faced accusations of making “unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law regulations, or other standards of conduct.”
Of course the Democrats blasted the release of the report:
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., released a status update from the committee’s minority staff to “inform the American public” about “key lines of inquiry” still requiring congressional investigation. Among other findings, Democrats said Russia used “a variety of intermediaries to approach the Trump campaign repeatedly throughout the election and the presidential transition.”
“Notwithstanding the decision by the Majority to end its work and turn its attention to counter-investigations designed to serve the President’s interests, the Minority’s work on the Russia investigation continues.,” Schiff said in a statement Friday. “We will continue our investigation using every means at our disposal; to do otherwise would ignore our responsibility to conduct meaningful oversight and insure that the Russians do not possess leverage over the President of the United States.”
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