Earlier today President Obama ordered the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a full investigation of allegations that the Russians may have hacked voting machines in an effort to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. Now we may know at least part of the reason why.
Tonight the Washington Post published details from a CIA report that asserts that the Russian government definitely did do some things to try to help Donald Trump get elected, not just try to stir up some minor chaos to cast doubt on the U.S. democracy and its election system.
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, according to U.S. officials. 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.
The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
The Post goes on to note that the “individuals with connections to the Russian government” who did the hacking and provided documents to Wikileaks “were ‘one step’ removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees.” The paper notes that “Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.”
Later in the night the New York Times published a story on the CIA report which provided some additional information, namely that the Russians sat on information obtained through hacking that could have been damaging to Trump.
American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.
They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.
This news all probably comes as little surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention, but it’s another thing to have logical suspicions about Russia trying to get Trump elected confirmed by the CIA. Remember, a foreign power — especially a hostile one like Russia — interfering in a U.S. presidential election is grounds for war, in the eyes of some.
UPDATE: In response to the report, Team Trump released a statement trashing the CIA.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the statement said. “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.’”
A president trashing the CIA publicly before even taking office is … something.