From the start, the Trump-Russia story has been both eye-glazingly complex and extraordinarily simple.
Who is Oleg Deripaska? What’s the G.R.U. again? Who owed what to whom? The sheer number of crisscrossing characters and interlocking pieces of evidence — the phone calls, the emails, the texts, the clandestine international meet-ups — has bamboozled even those who spend their days teasing it all apart. It’s no wonder average Americans tuned out long ago.
A bipartisan report released Tuesday by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee cuts through the chaff. The simplicity of the scheme has always been staring us in the face: Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign sought and maintained close contacts with Russian government officials who were helping him get elected. The Trump campaign accepted their offers of help. The campaign secretly provided Russian officials with key polling data. The campaign coordinated the timing of the release of stolen information to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The Senate committee’s report isn’t telling this story for the first time, of course. (Was it only a year ago that Robert Mueller testified before Congress about his own damning, comprehensive investigation?) But it is the first to do so with the assent of Senate Republicans, who have mostly ignored the gravity of the Trump camp’s actions or actively worked to cast doubt about the demonstrable facts in the case.
It’s also a timely rebuke to the narrative that Attorney General William Barr has been hawking since before he took office early last year — that “Russiagate” is a “bogus” scandal. Mr. Barr and other Trump allies claim that the Russia investigation was begun without basis and carried out with the intent of “sabotaging the presidency.” That argument has been debunked by every investigative body that has spent any time looking into what happened, including the nation’s intelligence community, Mr. Mueller’s team, the Justice Department’s inspector general and now the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In fact, the committee report, which is nearly 1,000 pages long and is the fifth in a series examining Russian interference in 2016, goes further than Mr. Mueller’s investigation.