A United States Senate Intelligence Committee report on Tuesday revealed that Russia had helped President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, AFP reported. The Republican Party-led inquiry showed that a St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency had launched a social media manipulation campaign to support Trump in the elections.

“The committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 US presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin,” the report said. “IRA social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump.”

The committee, which was headed by Republican Senator Richard Burr, released its report even as Trump has reiterated that claims of Russian meddling in the elections were “fake news”. The US president and allied Republican Party leaders are pushing for an unsubstantiated allegation that Ukraine and Democratic Party leaders had worked together to undermine Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The revelations are the second installment of the committee’s five-part report on the scope of Russia’s intrusion in the 2016 elections. The inquiry has spanned over two years and conducted more than 200 interviews of witnesses, Politico reported.

“Masquerading as Americans, these operatives used targeted advertisements, intentionally falsified news articles, self-generated content, and social media platform tools to interact with and attempt to deceive tens of millions of social media users in the United States,” the report said. “This campaign sought to polarize Americans on the basis of societal, ideological, and racial differences, provoked real world events, and was part of a foreign government’s covert support of Russia’s favored candidate in the U.S. presidential election.”

The committee also cautioned of a potential repeat of Russia’s meddling in next year’s presidential elections. The report recommended that “the executive branch should, in the run up to the 2020 election, reinforce with the public the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election”.

The report came on the day the White House said it would not cooperate with the impeachment investigation against Trump. The inquiry is looking into allegations against the US president for trying to push Ukraine into investigating former US Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

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