Sens. Mark Warner (L) and Richard Burr. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the fourth volume of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which focused on a December 2016 intelligence community assessment provided to President Obama.

Why it matters: The bipartisan report affirms the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the election to help President Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, noting that the assessment "reflects proper analytic tradecraft despite being tasked and completed within a compressed timeframe."

The big picture: The highly redacted report breaks with an investigation by the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee in 2018, which disagreed with the intelligence agencies' assessment and concluded that the Russian government did not explicitly intend to help Trump win the election.

  • The Senate committee found "specific intelligence reporting to support the assessment that Putin and the Russian Government demonstrated a preference for candidate Trump," and that Putin "approved and directed" aspects of the interference.
  • The Senate committee also disagreed with the House's claim that the intelligence agencies did not comply with analytical standards, noting: "The Committee found the ICA presents a coherent and well-constructed intelligence basis for the case of unprecedented Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election."
  • "The Committee did not discover any significant analytic tradecraft issues in the preparation or final presentation of the ICA."

Worth noting: The report finds that U.S. intelligence agencies did not use information from the infamous Steele dossier to support its findings. The dossier was included in a highly classified annex to the assessment, which was in line with President Obama's directive.

Read the report.

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Jul 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

FBI director Wray warns of China election interference

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray and other intelligence community officials warned about China’s increased capability to interfere in U.S. elections in separate classified hearings with the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, two sources familiar with the hearings tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Wray and other officials cited concerns that China is developing the ability to interfere with local election systems and target members of Congress to influence China policy, the sources said.

Biden campaign calls Trump's failure to raise Russian bounties with Putin "despicable"

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign on Wednesday said it was "absolutely despicable" that President Trump failed to confront Vladimir Putin with intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Driving the news: The president told "Axios on HBO" that he never raised the issue with his Russian counterpart, despite speaking to Putin at least eight times since intelligence about the alleged bounties was reportedly included in the President's Daily Brief in late February.

How the U.S.-China consulate closures could impact espionage

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

It is a universally accepted international convention that diplomatic facilities can be used as cover for espionage activities. But the system only works if states pretend not to acknowledge it.

The state of play: A decision last week by the Trump administration to shutter the Chinese consulate in Houston over allegations that China used it for spying set off a predictable diplomatic firestorm.

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