Key US senators: 'no doubt' Russia sought to interfere in US election

WASHINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) - The leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said on Wednesday they agreed with intelligence agencies' assessment that Moscow sought to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election to boost Donald Trump's prospects of becoming president.

"There is no doubt that Russia undertook an unprecedented effort to interfere with our 2016 elections," the committee's Republican chairman, Senator Richard Burr, said in a joint statement with the committee's top Democrat after a closed hearing on the issue.

"After a thorough review, our staff concluded that the (intelligence community) conclusions were accurate and on point," Senator Mark Warner said.

16 PHOTOS
Senate Intelligence Committee's review of Russian election meddling
See Gallery
Senate Intelligence Committee's review of Russian election meddling
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee gather ahead of a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks to the media as she leaves a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to the media as he arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Former NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers departs from a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper departs from a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, center right, speaks during a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, center, speaks during a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, takes notes ahead of a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (R) testify about election security during a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) and the committee's vice chairman Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)(2nd L) stand with members of the committee as they speak to the media about the committee's findings and recommendations on threats to election infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) and the committee's vice chairman Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)(R) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) stand before speaking about the committee's findings and recommendations on threats to election infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, takes a bathroom break after nearly two hours before the Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of the panel?s ongoing investigation of allegations of Russia?s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, departs after a full day being interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staff, as part of the panel?s ongoing investigation of allegations of Russia?s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Senators look at a placard presented as evidence of Russian social media manipulation, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to answer questions related to Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President (Vladimir) Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton," Warner said.

Their backing of intelligence agencies' findings contrasted with the assertion weeks earlier by House of Representatives Republicans that Russia had not sought to boost then-Republican candidate Trump, who went on to win the election.

The allegations, and multiple investigations into the matter, have shadowed the first 16 months of Trump's presidency.

Russia has denied seeking to interfere in the election and Trump has disputed suggestions that Moscow was working on his behalf.

33 PHOTOS
All of President Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
See Gallery
All of President Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Col… https://t.co/T2n7SAWgJp
There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there i… https://t.co/WU8JFuWLJi
House Intelligence Committee rules that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump Campaign and Russia. As I have bee… https://t.co/n4809kuVx3
Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. “No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinate… https://t.co/3erasoPL4N
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion an… https://t.co/GPYj4JbKgN
It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA
“Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump” @FoxNews Of course not, because there is none, and neve… https://t.co/R9sniNq1ar
Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the… https://t.co/wEVP4iGN6n
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in… https://t.co/W32TtSNOrw
A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on @foxandfriends talking of what is going on with respect to… https://t.co/EZ7cdgtUUo
A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!
A complete Witch Hunt!
The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility. House Intelligence Committee found No Collusion, Coordination… https://t.co/MMfLEunjG6
The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems… https://t.co/j7rc1QKCLw
James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classif… https://t.co/YfMYBrTkza
As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!
...case against him & now wants to clear his name by showing "the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan..." Witch Hunt!
The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt. Many new jobs, high business enthusiasm,..
Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!
When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!
Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!
A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!
Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what… https://t.co/7LtsbGyV80
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democr… https://t.co/eA1AtTPv49
“Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller t… https://t.co/KYsOPqiVBG
I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (… https://t.co/yjSuYhmzJb
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? An… https://t.co/wKNAVhWJcz
If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him.… https://t.co/wi7FDNjqK7
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers testified at the hearing. Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump, was invited but did not appear.

Senate Intelligence undertook one of three main congressional probes of Russia and the 2016 election, along with the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also looking into the matter.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House panel, said he agreed with the Senate panel's conclusion.

Over the objections of Democrats, Republicans who control a majority on the House committee announced in March that the panel had concluded its work and found that Russia did not aim to assist Trump.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)

Read Full Story