Russia draws senators' focus in hearing on election meddling

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., joined by members of the GOP leadership, pauses as he speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, about getting past last week's failure to pass a health care overhaul bill and rebuilding unity in the Republican Conference.

The top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee accused Russian Federation on Thursday of mounting a campaign of "propaganda on steroids" seeking to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and listed several areas of concern about possible links to Republican Donald Trump's campaign.

He said the US needs to let Russian Federation know "what things they can't do and why they cannot do those", and called on the committee to address the issue in a bipartisan approach, "for the good of the nation".

Watts, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute Program on National Security, even told committee member Sen.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., made the charge as the Senate panel held a rare public hearing about Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Watts did not provide additional information about why he believes Rubio was targeted by the disinformation campaign. Richard Burr, R-N.C., avoided any mention of last year's presidential campaign, but said efforts by Russian Federation to "discredit the United States and weaken the West are not new".

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Flynn has offered to testify before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees in exchange for immunity.

10 pranks to play on April Fool's Day
April 1, 2009: The Swiss Tourism Board released a video that revealed the secret of why their mountains look so clean. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to "see the Lions washed".

Ahead of Thursday's Senate hearing, Warner pledged to keep the investigation focused on the reason it was started.

They also warned of the potential for Russian influence on upcoming elections in France and Germany, and said Britain's "Brexit" vote a year ago on leaving the European Union should also be examined.

Warner and Burr both stressed the importance of exposing the activity of Russian hackers, which Warner said included reports of "upwards of 1,000 paid Internet trolls" who spread false negative stories about Clinton.

Putin and his government have repeatedly dismissed all allegations of wrongdoing, saying Thursday that they are "endless and groundless".

The New York Times reported the identities Thursday of two White House staffers the newspaper said had helped give Nunes the intelligence reports the California lawmaker then used to brief Trump.

The two senators also indicated they had communicated with Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, who was sacked last month after misrepresenting meetings with the Russian ambassador.

Many Democrats, including Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, called for Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation after he met last week with an unidentified source at the White House complex, accusing him of colluding with the White House. Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, volunteered to answer questions about meetings he arranged wit the Russian ambassador and other officials.

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