Russia Probe: Senate Intel Issues Updates and Warnings

Richard Burr and Mark Warner, in charge of the Senate Russia probe
Senators Warner (L) and Burr (R)

Top Senate Intelligence Committee officials warned future political candidates that Russia will likely continue to interfere in our electoral process.

Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) delivered their remarks to reporters on Wednesday in a rare press conference. Their Intelligence Committee investigation is one of three probes. The others are led by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and the House Intelligence Committee.

According to NY Time’s reporting, senate investigators have examined 100,000 documents turned over to them from the Trump campaign and intelligence agencies.

Russian Threat Looms Over Future Elections

The Senators’ words were clear. They reaffirmed that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 race, and that they have every reason to believe they will try it again.

“The Russian intelligence service is determined — clever — and I recommend that every campaign and every election official take this very seriously,” said Senator Burr.

State Electoral Systems Targeted by Russia

This warning comes on the heels of recent headlines that Russia did in fact individually target voting systems and databases in at least 21 states. The Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC), notably, was the target of an August 2016 attack from Russia. Hackers were able to place malicious banner ads on WEC computers. This particular attempt was unsuccessful.

Senator Warner added that a 50-state attack wouldn’t be necessary to swing an election. “You could pick two or three states in two or three jurisdictions and alter an election.”

Facebook is now turning over thousands of records to investigators.

A more complete scope of Russia’s disinformation campaign on social media is taking shape.  As reported here a few days ago, Facebook (and now Twitter) has turned over evidence of Russian linked ad buys. Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been invited to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1st. Senator Warner expressed gratitude that tech companies were “recognizing that threat now.”

Senator Burr did take the opportunity to put to bed a few speculative rumors. One of them regarded a meeting that took place between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and then-senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions came under fire during his confirmation hearing for undisclosed Russian contacts. This meeting took place at the Mayflower hotel in Washington, D.C., as part of an event. Burr said there was no evidence of subversive activity.

The Senate Committee has reached no conclusions regarding possible cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia. Nevertheless, Senator Burr did say that “the issue of collusion is still open.”