Senate Intelligence Committee leaders: Russian Federation did interfere in 2016 elections

Posted October 05, 2017

"It seems that the overall theme of the Russian involvement in the USA elections was to create chaos at every level".

Sen. Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the committee has exhausted its probe of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey's emails.

Burr and the committee's ranking Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, stressed that the Russian interference campaign has continued after the election.

"Campaign staff was attempting to implement what they believed to be guidance to be a strong ally on Ukraine, but also leave the door open for better relations with Russia", Burr said.

There has been some speculation that there is pressure on Burr to conclude the investigation, particularly from Trump circles, but he said that "the issue of collusion is still open".

"Among the most pernicious features of Russian interference was the cynical and calculated use of social media to divide Americans and exploit our internal divisions", Schiff said in his statement. "They were indiscriminate", Burr said.

Burr said the committee had interviewed seven people about that meeting, and that "the testimony of all seven were consistent with each other".

The lawmakers said that though they have reached no conclusion about whether the campaign colluded with the Kremlin - the question also at the heart of a separate criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller - their investigation has left no doubt about a multi-pronged Russian effort to meddle in American politics.

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"We haven't even had our hearing yet", he said.

CNN reported on Wednesday that several Russian-linked Facebook ads, specifically targeted two critical swing states in the election campaign, MI and Wisconsin, and were "highly sophisticated" in focusing on key demographic groups in those states.

A Facebook spokesperson told BI early last month that the company was "unable" to release the ads "due to both federal law and the fact that investigations are ongoing with the relevant authorities".

"I was concerned at first that some of these social media platform companies did not take this threat seriously enough", Warner said "I believe they are taking it seriously now".

Facebook officials have said that 10 million people saw Russia-linked advertising that sought to sway the USA presidential election on the social media platform, and 44 percent of those were seen before the election. Facebook said Wednesday that it had accepted invitations from both committees.

Russians or their operatives were buying public ads aimed at amplifying political division in the USA, or using fake accounts, disguised as Americans, to openly throw fuel on hot controversies.

Attention in recent weeks has focused on the role of social media companies, after Facebook's announcement that Russia-linked firms bought about 3,000 political ads from 2015 to 2017.

The FBI has also reportedly used some materials from the dossier in its successful request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump personal friend and associate Carter Page.