Senate to Investigate Russian Election Interference Intel

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Friday it is launching an investigation into intelligence suggesting Russian attempts to influence the presidential election.

That came the same day that Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia said he did not believe President-elect Donald Trump's victory was legitimate due to Russian interference.

The bipartisan Senate investigation was announced by Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and vice chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) in a joint statement.

Related: C-SPAN Investigating Russian TV Feed Issue

"In the course of its regular work, the Committee conducts oversight of the Intelligence Community’s collection and analysis related to Russia; however, the Oct. 7, 2016, joint statement on election security from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), combined with the declassified Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of 'Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections' raise profound concerns," they said.

The committee plans to hold hearings, produce classified and unclassified reports on its findings and "interview senior officials of both the outgoing and incoming administrations including the issuance of subpoenas if necessary to compel testimony."

The scope of the investigation will include, but not be limited to:

Related: Spicer Brands Press Attacks on Trump Reckless

• "A review of the intelligence that informed the Intelligence Community Assessment 'Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U..S Elections;'

• "Counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns;

• "Russian cyber activity and other 'active measures' directed against the U.S., both as it regards the 2016 election and more broadly."

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a report last week detailing the intelligence community's assessment that Russia tried to sway the presidential election for Donald Trump, including via fake news and social media.

The report, essentially a declassified version of a highly classified report, was released the same day President-elect Trump met with the heads of the FBI, CIA and other intelligence-gatherers.

Among the ODNI's key judgments were that: "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election"; that "Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency," and that "Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

The CIA and FBI both have high confidence in those judgments, the NSA has moderate confidence.

The finding was also that when, like many in the U.S., the Russians thought Clinton was going to win, they shifted to undermining her potential presidency.

The senators said they had been assured by the current director of National Intelligence that the Intelligence Community will cooperate with requests for information, and expects the incoming Administration to do the same.

“This issue impacts the foundations of our democratic system, it’s that important. This requires a full, deep, and bipartisan examination," said Warner.

Trump has conceded Russia was behind the hacks of political campaigns, but continues to target the U.S. intelligence community with Tweets, particularly after last week's story about uncorroborated intel that Trump appears to believe was leaked by members of the intelligence community.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.