The Republican-majority Senate Intelligence Committee has released a report concluding that Russia’s online campaign prior to the 2016 elections hurt former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and propelled now-President Donald Trump.
“The committee found that the social networking activity of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) was openly and almost invariably supportive of the then-candidate Trump, and to the detriment of Secretary Clinton’s campaign,” said the 85-page report, which accused the Kremlin of organizing said cyber campaign.
The committee’s investigation found that the IRA not only attacked Clinton, but also “damaged” Republican candidates during the presidential primaries, such as Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
“Between now and the 2020 elections, the intelligence community must find ways to keep the U.S. public informed not only of operations of individual influence, but also of the community’s assessment of the objectives and intent of Russia and other foreign adversaries,” the senators said.
In recent months, Trump has questioned intelligence findings that the 2016 elections were subject to Russian manipulation, sometimes adopting conservative conspiracy theories.
However, the bipartisan committee’s analysis has determined that the IRA operation “sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by damaging Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump by order of the Kremlin.
The IRA has already been sanctioned by the Treasury, the State Department and formally accused by the Justice Department of having tried to interfere in the presidential elections of 2016 and in the legislative elections of 2018, in which all the representatives of the Lower House and a third of the Senate were decided.
Two weeks ago, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) froze the assets of Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a businessman linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including three airplanes and a yacht, as well as those of different employees of the IRA, funded by the same tycoon.
In February last year, the Department of Justice formally indicted thirteen citizens and three Russian entities for interfering in the 2016 presidential elections, activities that would have begun in 2014.