The results of a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election should serve as a “wake-up call for all Americans” as the 2020 election also comes under attack, Sen. Angus King said Tuesday.

The United States is better prepared to resist election interference now than four years ago, said Sen. Susan Collins, but she also said more needs to be done to safeguard American democracy.

A 1,300-page report released Tuesday by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence panel outlined an aggressive effort by Russia to interfere in the election on behalf of Donald Trump in 2016 and states that associates of the Republican candidate were in regular touch with Russians throughout the campaign and were eager to benefit from the help.

Both King, an independent, and Collins, a Republican, serve on the committee and participated in the three-year investigation. Neither was available for an interview Tuesday, but both released statements underscoring the findings about extensive Russian interference in 2016 and the continuing threat to election security.

“This report provides clear and unambiguous facts about the Trump campaign and how it opened the door to a devastating Russian active measures operation. For example, it shows that Paul Manafort, Chairman of the Trump Campaign at the time, was in close contact with an operative of the Russian government and shared detailed internal polling data that may have offered demographic targets for Russia’s bots and disinformation,” King said in a statement. “It also shows that Mr. Manafort was not the only member of the Trump campaign that made our country vulnerable to foreign interference; although denying it at the time, Candidate Trump, his family, and some of his closest advisers had entered into personal and business entanglements with Russian oligarchs and other influencers that made them prime counterintelligence targets. Many of these same vulnerabilities still exist today.”

Collins said in a statement that the final report from the investigation “is an exhaustive look into Moscow’s multifaceted effort to collect intelligence on the major parties and to undermine the public’s confidence in the electoral process.” 

“According to the intelligence community, our government and political parties are much better prepared for foreign interference efforts than in 2016, but additional action must be taken to safeguard our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy,” Collins said. “This is why, for example, I cosponsored the Foreign Influence Reporting Elections (FIRE) Act, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, and the Secure Election Act, as well as supported an additional $425 million in election security funding in the FY20 budget.”

The Senate panel described its report as “the most comprehensive description to date of Russia’s activities and the threat they posed.” The bipartisan investigation lasted almost three and a half years, much longer than the other probes.

The report purposely does not come to a final conclusion about whether there is enough evidence to determine that Trump’s campaign coordinated or colluded with Russia to sway the election to him and away from Democrat Hillary Clinton, leaving its findings open to partisan interpretation, according to The Associated Press.

Both King and Collins highlighted the bipartisan nature of the investigation.

Collins said the bipartisan report “will serve for our government and historians as a critical, fact-based account of the events surrounding the 2016 election.”

King said the report “serves as a rear-view mirror but also a possible view of the road ahead of us as we enter another election cycle.”

King said he’s concerned that not enough has been done by the Trump administration to acknowledge the 2016 interference and prevent more attacks in 2020.

“The fact is that the findings of the committee – supported on a bipartisan basis – matter more at this moment in time than ever before,” King said. “Rather than disavowing this threat, President Trump and his inner circle have denied the unambiguous facts laid out in the report and, inexplicably, continue to take actions that support the aims and ambitions of Vladimir Putin.”

“Rather than passing commonsense legislation to require political campaigns to report to the appropriate authorities contacts from foreign nationals, the President and his allies have blocked these efforts from being added to the NDAA and becoming law; indeed the President himself has expressed an openness to foreign interference in a news interview from the Oval Office,” King’s statement continued. “And as the Intelligence Community assessed just a few weeks ago, Russia has updated its playbook and is now targeting Vice President Biden with its active measures – including through proxies who are spreading rumors to denigrate Biden and boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media.

“Mark Twain once said that history doesn’t always repeat itself but it often rhymes, especially for those who refuse to learn its lessons. We must learn from our past in order to prepare Americans for these ongoing efforts to undermine our democracy – this November and in the years ahead.”

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