Putin Was Helping Trump. Now They Have Meetings in Private.

It is a testament to how far we’ve fallen down the rabbit hole that on the afternoon of July 3, the Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report in which its members unanimously agreed that the evidence shows that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump — and on July 4, a group of eight Republican senators were in Moscow, publicly glad-handing Russian officials. It was an odd juxtaposition to say the least.

The SSCI has been releasing reports on its investigation into Russian interference piecemeal, with the latest being the second of what’s expected to be at least three. The first report addressed the attempted hacking and infiltration of the election systems in the 2016 election by Russian entities. This second report confirmed the intelligence community’s findings that the Russian government had interfered in the election to hurt Hillary Clinton and then went all in to help Donald Trump. That wasn’t news, of course, but it is significant that the Republicans on the committee all signed off on those findings, contradicting the House Intelligence Committee’s Republican majority, refused to admit that their president had been a targeted beneficiary of the Russian campaign.

But the unclassified report did make some news — or at least it would have, had it been released at any other time but at 3 p.m. on the afternoon before a national holiday. The senators also found that the Russian campaign of interference continued past January of 2017, when the intelligence agencies’ assessment was released. They also found a “far more extensive Russian effort” to use social media to influence the American electorate than was known at that time.

In what is surely a disappointment to right-wing conspiracy theorists, they also confirmed that the infamous “Steele dossier” had no influence on the original intelligence report. It was handled separately, and there was no political bias involved in…

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