Of the three major investigations into Russia’s 2016 election interference, the House Intelligence Committee’s has been the briefest, sloppiest and most partisan. The result is a report released Friday that contains some useful information and recommendations — which will be drowned out by its slanted attacks on the intelligence community and its other attempts to give President Trump cover. “In 2015, Russia began engaging in a covert influence campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the report begins. “The Russian government, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, sought to sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process.” Although these sentences suggest that the committee does not live in the president’s world of total denial, the committee neverthe less refused to accept that the Kremlin tried to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump.
Instead, the report insists without evidence that intelligence officials “did not employ proper analytic tradecraft” in reaching that conclusion. The committee promises an explanation of that conclusion sometime in the future. Instead, its members should examine why they have such a hard time accepting what is clear to neutral observers. While they are at it, they can reevaluate their obsession with the notion that the Justice Department improperly surveilled Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a debunked story that once again appears in their latest narrative.
In a report on a hostile Russian campaign against the United States, the committee also spends a substantial amount of ink attacking leakers whose disclosures helped raise the issue in the news media. The report insists that leaks on Russian operations “increased dramatically” after the 2016 election. Though probably intended to help Mr. Trump, this finding undermines one of his primary defenses; if there had been a “deep state” plot to stop Mr. Trump, wouldn’t the leaks have begun in earnest before Americans voted?