Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A bipartisan Senate report said Thursday the United States under the administration of President Barack Obama was not "well-postured" to defend the U.S. electoral system against Russian interference in the run-up to the 2016 vote.
The Senate intelligence committee report said the Obama administration wasn't overt about potential trouble with the election because it didn't want to undermine Americans' confidence, and didn't think any warnings would have much impact on Russia propaganda online.
The 54-page report said the administration considered taking strong action against Russia but was concerned, given Moscow's preference for then-Republican candidate Donald Trump, that any efforts would be seen as a move to favor Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
After the election, it noted, Obama sanctioned Moscow, expelled Russian personnel and closed Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States.
Thursday's report is the third volume produced by the intelligence committee detailing the results of its three-year Russia investigation.
"After discovering the existence, if not the full scope, of Russia's election interference efforts in late-2016, the Obama Administration struggled to determine the appropriate response," committee Chair Sen. Richard Burr said in a statement.
"Frozen by 'paralysis of analysis,' hamstrung by constraints both real and perceived, Obama officials debated courses of action without truly taking one. Many of their concerns were understandable, including the fear that warning the public of the election threat would only alarm the American people and accomplish Russia's goal of undermining faith in our democratic institutions."
The panel's ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called on Americans reject foreign interference in the 2020 campaign -- and for infrastructural fixes at the root of the problem.
"The 2016 Russian interference ... was unprecedented," he said. "There were many flaws with the U.S. response to the 2016 attack, but it's worth noting that many of those were due to problems with our own system -- problems that can and should be corrected."
The panel recommended strengthen partnerships with foreign governments to identify "new Russian active measures" and support creating new cyber norms. The United States in the future should develop "a range of standing response options that can be rapidly executed," it added.