August 18, 2018

Russia ‘tried to hijack US election’, says US senator

2322Russia tried to hijack the US democratic process, says a senator investigating alleged interference in the US election.
A hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee opened on Thursday morning. Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is to appear next week.
US intelligence agencies believe Russia tried to help Mr Trump win in November by damaging Hillary Clinton.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin has flatly denied the allegations.
In the committee’s opening remarks, Ranking Democrat Mark Warner said “Russia sought to hijack our democratic process” by employing a disinformation campaign on social media, which he describes as “Russian propaganda on steroids”.
He said Thursday’s session would examine how Russia may have used technology to spread disinformation in the US, including the possible generation of fake news for voters in key states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Embarrassing “stolen information” was released through websites such as Wikileaks, Mr Warner said, at “seemingly choreographed times that would cause maximum damage to one candidate” – Hillary Clinton.
“They did this with an unprecedented level of sophistication,” he said.
Committee chairman Republican Richard Burr said “we are all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary”. He added that “if we politicise this, our efforts will likely fail”.
Former National Security Agency director Keith Alexander will be one of those testifying on Thursday.
Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House has said, and is scheduled to appear next week.
In a joint press conference earlier this week, both Mr Burr and Mr Warner pledged not to shy away from the truth.
When asked if he had seen any links between Mr Trump and Russian interference, he said: “We know that our challenge is to answer that question for the American people.”.
Mr Burr said that there had been “conversations” about interviewing Michael Flynn – who was sacked by Mr Trump as national security adviser for misleading the vice-president over his contacts with the Russian ambassador – but his appearance is not confirmed.
House bitterness
The Trump presidency has been unable to shake off allegations that members of its team colluded with Russian officials during the election campaign. The president has regularly dismissed the claims as “fake news” and Russia has also ridiculed the allegations.
President Vladimir Putin did so again on Thursday at an Arctic forum, describing them as “nonsense”.
Mr Burr was a security adviser to the Trump campaign but insists he remains objective.
The House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry into the matter has been beset by partisan disputes.
Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff has insisted panel chairman Devin Nunes remove himself, after accusing him of colluding with the White House.
Last week, Mr Nunes went straight to the White House after hearing allegations about surveillance of Mr Trump’s team, rather than sharing them with Democrat colleagues on the panel.
He later apologised but insists he remains an objective chairman and will not step down.
As well as the two houses of Congress, the FBI is also conducting an investigation into the matter

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