By Tank Murdoch
(TNS) A new ‘bipartisan’ report that has been a long time coming from the Senate Intelligence Committee claims that the Obama administration’s failure to confront Russian meddling in the 2016 elections was due in large part to “paralysis of analysis” — or, basically, studying the problem indefinitely without implementing any real plan of action.
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As reported by POLITICO, the report claims that the Obama administration â€œwas not well-postured to counter Russian election interference activity with a full range of readily-available policy options.â€
The Obama administration issued â€œhigh-level warnings of potential retaliationâ€ to Moscow, the report says.
But the Kremlin â€œcontinued its cyber activity, to include further public dissemination of stolen emails, clandestine social media-based influence operations, and penetration of state voting infrastructure through Election Day 2016.â€
The Obama White House’s response to the intrusion was also â€œtempered â€¦ over concerns about appearing to act politically on behalf of one candidate, undermining public confidence in the election, and provoking additional Russian actions,â€ the report said.
POLITICO noted further:
The 54-page, partially redacted report focuses exclusively on the Obama administrationâ€™s efforts to deal with Moscowâ€™s interference ahead of Election Day.
It lays out several factors that hamstrung the White Houseâ€™s ability to coordinate a response, including partisan concerns not only on the campaign trail, but also in Congress.
The report details resistance by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to issuing a bipartisan statement in 2016 about the Russian effort.
Former homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco recalled a conversation with McConnell where he stated, “You security people should be careful that you’re not getting used,” which she interpreted as the GOP leader doubting the intelligence concluding Russia was attempting to interfere.
The report is the third in a five-volume installment of the Senate panel’s probe of 2016 election interference, which is proceeding at a snail’s pace.
â€œAfter discovering the existence, if not the full scope, of Russiaâ€™s election interference efforts in late-2016, the Obama Administration struggled to determine the appropriate response,â€ Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement.
â€œFrozen by â€˜paralysis of analysis,â€™ hamstrung by constraints both real and perceived, Obama officials debated courses of action without truly taking one.”
The panel’s ranking member, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), said that there â€œwere many flaws with the U.S. response to the 2016 attack, but it’s worth noting that many of those were due to problems with our own system.â€
â€œI am particularly concerned however, that a legitimate fear raised by the Obama Administration â€” that warning the public of the Russian attack could backfire politically â€” is still present in our hyper-partisan environment.â€
In an addendum to the report, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a senior panel member, wrote that not issuing a â€œbipartisan public acknowledgment of the ongoing attack by Russiaâ€ was a mistake, POLITICO reported.
â€œAn acknowledgment of Russian influence operations, particularly operations intended to help Donald Trump, would have reflected poorly on the candidate and his campaign,â€ he wrote. â€œBut that should not have been a reason for the administration and members of Congress to withhold from the public warning of an ongoing attack by a foreign adversary.â€
In other words, the top Democrats on the panel seem to not only be perpetuating the ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ narrative, but also suggesting that Obama did Trump a favor by not mentioning Moscow was all-in on his behalf.
To begin with, even special counsel Robert Mueller, as tainted as he was by hiring a gaggle of Democratic donors and sympathizers to be his prosecutorial team, concluded officially that there was no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
But also, in November, investigative reporter Paul Sperry noted that Warner was holding up a Senate Intelligence Committee finding that fully exonerated the president and his 2016 campaign as it pertains to alleged ‘Russian’ influence.
BREAKING: Democrat Sen. Mark Warner, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is holding up release of findings of panel's investigation into allegations of Trump-Russia "collusion." Report, which had been due for release in Sept, is said to fully exonerate Trump,advisers pic.twitter.com/uBGwk5SaW9
— Paul Sperry (@paulsperry_) November 7, 2019
In addition, Warner has been outed as having had extensive contact with a Russian oligarch tied to former British spy and “Russian dossier” author Christopher Steele.
AsÂ reportedÂ byÂ Fox News:
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who has been leading a congressional investigation into President Trumpâ€™s alleged ties to Russia, had extensive contact last year with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering Warner access to former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele, according to text messages obtained exclusively by Fox News.
â€œWe have so much to discuss u need to be careful but we can help our country,â€ Warner texted the lobbyist, Adam Waldman, on March 22, 2017.
â€œIâ€™m in,â€ Waldman, whose firm has ties to Hillary Clinton, texted back to Warner.
Steele famously put together the anti-Trump dossier of unverified information that was used by FBI and Justice Department officials in October 2016 to get a warrant to conduct surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page. Despite the efforts, Steele has not agreed to an interview with the committee.
As the conservation heated up on March 29, secrecy appeared to be very important to Warner after the lobbyist revealed that Steele was seeking to publish a bipartisan letter from Warner and the committeeâ€™s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., that invited him to address the intel panel,Â Fox Newsâ€˜ Ed Henry reported.
â€œThroughout the text exchanges, Warner seemed particularly intent on connecting directly with Steele without anyone else on the Senate Intelligence Committee being in the loop â€” at least initially,â€ Henry wrote. â€œIn one text to the lobbyist, Warner wrote that he would â€˜rather not have a paper trailâ€™ of his messages.â€
Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a “paper trail” on a “private” meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame. All tied into Crooked Hillary.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2018
It’s hard to imagine that Burr isn’t aware of Warner’s contacts with Waldman. It’s also not so hard to imagine why he’s slow-walking this report series, given that we’re already well into the next presidential election cycle.
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