Following the completion of a secret assessment, the CIA concluded that Russia did intervene in the 2016 election to help President-elect Donald Trump win, according to officials.
The CIA assessment was shared with key senators during a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill. Agency officials said in the meeting that it was “quite clear” that Russia wanted Trump elected, The Washington Post reports.
A formal U.S. assessment by 17 intelligence agencies found that individuals who are connected to the Russian government provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and other Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to officials.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators said. “That’s the consensus view.”
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But the intelligence agencies could not conclude that the Kremlin told the individuals to give the hacked emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. The individuals were “one step” removed from the Russian government, and not government employees.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in an interview that the “Russian government is not the source.”
A report in The New York Times also said intelligence officials had a “high confidence” that Russia was involved in election-related hacking, according to The Guardian. It added that U.S. intelligence agencies discovered Russian hackers also accessed the Republican National Committee’s networks, but chose to not release the stolen information.
“That was a major clue to their intent,” an official told Reuters, according to The Guardian. “If all they wanted to do was discredit our political system, why publicize the failings of just one party, especially when you have a target like Trump?”
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Another official said the intelligence agencies conclusions do not mean they believe Russia’s efforts altered or significantly affected the outcome of the election.
The CIA and other intelligence agencies told the White House and congressional leaders in previous assessments that Russia interfered in the election to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, The Washington Post reports. The agency had not previously said that the Russian government’s goal was to help elect Trump.
On Dec. 9, President Barack Obama ordered a “full review” of Russian hacking during the election campaign.
“We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, said.
Obama has requested the report be completed before he leaves office on Jan. 20, 2017. His decision comes after seven Democratic senators asked him to declassify details about the intrusions and why officials believe the Kremlin was involved.
James Clapper, the outgoing director of national intelligence, will lead the review, officials said.
Monaco did not discuss the CIA assessment since it had not been previously disclosed, but officials said on Dec. that the Democratic senators specifically asked for the White House to release portions of the CIA’s presentation.
Democratic lawmakers in the House have also asked Obama for briefings on Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
Republican lawmakers are not convinced that Russia was involved in the hacks.
“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence -- even now,” Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team, said. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
If Russia was involved, then it will be the first time the country has interfered through cyber-means with an election, officials said.