CIA Concludes Russia Mounted Operation to Help Trump Win
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The CIA has concluded that Russia mounted a covert intelligence operation to influence the U.S. election in an effort to help Donald Trump win, a congressional official knowledgeable on the matter told NBC News.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed senators on the latest intelligence in a closed-door meeting last week, and he described the latest findings on the intentions of the Russian government with regard to the hacks and other interference in the U.S. presidential election, according to the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the intelligence.
A Washington Post report published online Friday night first described how the intelligence community has reached a “consensus” that Russia intervened in the presidential election to help Trump win — not just try to sow chaos and undermine the electoral process. The New York Times confirmed the story, as has NBC News.
The president-elect’s transition team responded by impugning the CIA’s integrity in a statement Friday, calling the spy agency “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
Trump has repeatedly said he does not accept the findings of the spy agencies he will soon lead. They say Russia was behind hacks of Democratic email accounts and other efforts that appeared to harm Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
In October, the U.S. government said that all 17 intelligence agencies agreed Russia was behind the cyber-attacks just before the November election, and that the goal was “to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Now, the Congressional official told NBC News, new intelligence suggests that Russia’s goal was to elect Trump, who broke from Republican orthodoxy during the campaign with several sympathetic statements about a Russian regime that has seized a neighbor’s territory and is accused of killing political opponents.
Senators were briefed last week on the secret CIA assessment, the source said, confirming reports in the Post and Times.
In an interview Saturday with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, outgoing Democratic leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who was among those briefed, accused FBI director James Comey of withholding information about the Russian campaign from the public. He said Comey should resign.
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