Sen. Richard Burr's seemingly mild words were, in fact, unmistakably pointed. Speaking Wednesday about Russia’s activities and intentions in the 2016 presidential election, the North Carolina Republican assured Americans that his staff “spent 14 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft, and analytic work” of the intelligence community and found “no reason” to dispute intelligence officials’ conclusions.
Under normal circumstances, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee vouching for the professionalism of the nation’s national security staff would hardly be notable. In this case, Mr. Burr’s statement represented a direct rebuke of the hyper-partisan House Intelligence Committee and of the White House, which has sought to score political points by attacking the professionals.
The House Intelligence Committee last month ended its slanted and abbreviated inquiry into Russian election interference, with the panel’s Republicans accusing the intelligence community of “significant intelligence tradecraft failings” in concluding that the Kremlin intervened to boost Donald Trump’s campaign. President Trump used the report to further his narrative that the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is a witch hunt.
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Mr. Burr and Mr. Warner deserve credit for continuing to cooperate in the face of extreme partisan pressure. The president himself has leaned on the chairman and other Senate GOP leaders to end the legislative inquiry. The panel’s findings reinforce a conclusion that, no matter how familiar by now, should remain stunning and unacceptable to all Americans: A hostile foreign power intervened on behalf of a particular presidential candidate, who is now in the White House, and that power likely intends to meddle again. Also stunning is that, in the face of this continuing national security threat, partisanship has led many Republicans to deny the obvious and smear patriotic intelligence officials.
Their investment seems to be paying off in at least one way: Mr. Trump so far has been unwilling to mount the kind of strong response that would be necessary to deter the Russians from trying to interfere in U.S. elections again.