President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has dismissed reports by the CIA and other intelligence agencies that state Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help the Republican businessman win.
“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 who was briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators told The Washington Post. “That’s the consensus view.”
The CIA had previously said that Russia supplied hacked emails to WikiLeaks in an attempt to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, but now concludes that the interference was to help Trump win the presidency. The CIA's findings were given to key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill.
Agency briefers said during the meeting it was “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to officials.
Trump does not believe Russia was involved in the hacks, which released thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
“I don’t believe they interfered” in the election, Trump told Time magazine, according to The Washington Post. The hacking, he said, “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
Upon release of information related to the CIA assessment, Trump’s transition team issued the following statement on Dec. 9: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’”
By referring to the CIA’s intelligence misfire that claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the relationship between Trump and the agency may be strained, according to CNN.
Trump will need the support of the CIA to make monumental decisions while in office. At this time, he is only receiving intelligence briefings once a week, while several previous presidents preparing for the inauguration had a more intense briefing schedule.
The intelligence agencies found that the Russians who allegedly supplied the hacked emails to WikiLeaks were not government employees, and are uncertain if the Kremlin directed them to release the information, according to The Washington Post.
President Barack Obama has called for a full review of hacking aimed at influencing U.S. elections going back to 2008, CNN reports.
Russia has denied any wrongdoing and wants to see evidence of its alleged involvement in the election.