The Senate Intelligence Committee officially announced on Friday that it is launching a bipartisan inquiry into Russian intelligence activities.
The probe will look into the Russian hacking of U.S. elections including whether President-elect Donald Trump’s team or surrogates were in contact with Moscow. It will also include “Counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns,” according to a statement.
“As part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s oversight responsibilities we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States,” Committee Chair North Carolina Senator Richard Burr said in a joint statement with ranking member Virginia Senator Mark Warner, just one day after Burr had said that no such topic would be included in his committee’s investigation.
Burr added that both the October statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which said that the agencies believed Russians were behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee, and the more recent declassified report from the Intelligence Community — comprised of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies — on Russian interference in the election “raise profound concerns.”
The Intelligence Community report concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered a hacking and influence campaign intended to tip the scales in the election to Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton.
Reports have since surfaced that the IC also has been investigating a dossier of memos compiled by a former British MI-6 agent that claims that Russia has personal and financial compromising information on Donald Trump and that his campaign aides and Russian intermediaries have been in contact throughout the campaign. The matter is serious enough that it was included in the intelligence briefings to both President Obama and President-elect Trump last week.
The Committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads. We will conduct this inquiry expeditiously, and we will get it right,” the statement read.