A message from CIA Director John Brennan has revealed that both FBI Director James Comey and Director James Clapper of National Intelligence are in agreement with the agency's conclusion that the Russian government had interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the express purpose of helping President-elect Donald Trump.
On Dec. 16, Brennan circulated a message to the CIA staffers announcing that he, Comey and Clapper all agreed that Russia had hacked and leaked data during the election season in order to help tip public opinion in Trump's favor, The Washington Post reports.
"Earlier this week, I met separately with [FBI Director] James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election," Brennan wrote.
The disclosure signals that the CIA's controversial assessment about Russian involvement in the election is now the consensus view of the nation's triumvirate of top intelligence and law enforcement officials.
"The three of us also agree that our organizations, along with others, need to focus on completing the thorough review of this issue that has been directed by President Obama and which is being led by the DNI," Brennan added.
CIA officials have previously told lawmakers that their agency is confident that Russia had worked to both undermine Americans' trust in their democracy and to help elect Trump, who has advocated for friendlier U.S.-Russia relations.
One unnamed official familiar with both the CIA and FBI investigations has asserted that both agencies had always been on the same page regarding the Russian hackings.
"The truth is they were never all that different in the first place," the official said.
At the conclusion of his message, Brennan signaled that several members of Congress were not accepting the CIA's assessment of Russia's role in the election.
"In recent days, I have had several conversations with members of Congress, providing an update on the status of the review as well as the considerations that need to be taken into account as we proceed," Brennan wrote. "Many — but unfortunately not all — members understand and appreciate the importance and gravity of the issue, and they are very supportive of the process that is underway."
On Dec. 15, President Barack Obama promised that the U.S. will retaliate against Russia for its alleged cyberattacks. He also chided both Trump and the Republican Party for considering warmer relations with Putin's government in the wake of these allegations.
"This is somebody, the former head of the KGB, who is responsible for crushing democracy in Russia, muzzling the press, throwing political dissidents in jail … And a big chunk of the Republican Party, which prided itself during the Reagan era and for decades that followed as being the bulwark against Russian influence, now suddenly is embracing him," Obama said, according to NPR.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the CIA assessment of Russia's role in the election, asserting that there is no evidence that the hacks and leaks of both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee were committed by Putin's government.
On Dec. 15, White House press secretary Josh Earnest blasted Trump's repeated dismissal of the intelligence community's findings, citing that the business mogul himself had asked for Russia to hack Clinton's email during a July press conference, an incident that the president-elect's campaign later said was a joke.
"That's not a joke," Earnest said, according to the Los Angeles times. "Nobody at the White House thought it was a joke. Nobody in the intelligence community thought it was a joke. ... It might be time to not attack the intelligence community but actually support a thorough, transparent, nonpolitical investigation into what exactly happened, and to cooperate with it, and to support it."