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Maine's Two U.S. Senators: Report Shows Russian Interference In 2016 Election 'Not A Hoax'

Andrew Harnik
Associated Press
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, left, speaks with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on 'Policy Response to Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Elections' on Capitol Hill, June 20, 2018, in Washington.

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the fifth and final part of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Maine’s two U.S. senators both serve on the committee and agree that legislation must be passed to address the issue.

The report concludes that the Russians “engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.”

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King says the nearly thousand-page report is the result of more than 200 interviews and a review of over a million pages of documents, and represents a more in-depth probe than the one conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“It’s a comprehensive review of the contacts and relationships between the Trump campaign and the Russians in 2016,” he says.

King says it’s clear that Russia and other nations tried to influence the 2016 election and are still interfering in the process. He says the panel’s findings were overwhelmingly bipartisan, and is very concerned that President Donal Trump continues to dismiss the facts.

“One of the central problems is that the president has not acknowledged what happened, has never acknowledged — he keeps calling it a Russia hoax. It is not a hoax. It was very substantive, very significant,” he says.

“I certainly agree that the president should not be calling it a hoax,” says Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. “The evidence is overwhelming that the Russians did intend to interfere with the election.”

Collins is co-sponsoring legislation that would require candidates to report to the FBI if contacted by any foreign agent in an attempt to influence elections. But, she is not sure if the measure will even be considered this year.

“That’s a good question. Given all else that is on our plate, I am not certain. But I will say that if we bring it to the Senate floor it will pass,” she says.

Even if it did, Collins says she is not sure whether President Trump would sign the legislation. Overturning a presidential veto would require a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate, which she says would be difficult to achieve.

Originally published at 1:50 p.m. Aug. 18, 2020.