Just hours after President Obama ordered intelligence agencies to review and deliver a report on cyber attacks and foreign intervention into the 2016 election, the CIA has disclosed a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, The Washington Post reported Friday night.
According to U.S. officials briefed on the matter, Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
Trump, who openly called onto Russia to hack Hillary’s email server, blasted the Intelligence agencies report, saying it is ‘politically motivated.”
Trump has consistently criticized the intelligence community’s findings about Russian hacking.
“I don’t believe they interfered” in the election, he told Time magazine this week. The hacking, he said, “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
According to The Post, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responded by insulting the nation’s top spy agency, questioning the veracity of the intelligence report, citing top officials present during a secret briefing.
During the classified meeting, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in several states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals.
And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”
The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.
Democrats urged the White House to take action on the Russian Hacking, saying the administration has “all the tools and the ability to impose sanctions. They have the ability to take clandestine means.”
“If the administration decides not to utilize them in a way that would deter the Russians, I think that’s a problem,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.