Washington Post: CIA concluded that Russia was trying to interfere in presidential election to help Trump | Arkansas Blog

Washington Post: CIA concluded that Russia was trying to interfere in presidential election to help Trump


The Washington Post has the scoop that the CIA has concluded that Russia was trying to tilt the election to Donald Trump:
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

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.

“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,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”


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 grain of salt here, and it's a big one: this is a story, based on anonymous sources, about what the CIA says — not any actual evidence that has been offered publicly. Caution and skepticism are in order. That said, if this "consensus view" turns out to be accurate, it's certainly explosive — a potentially hostile foreign power aiming to tilt a U.S. presidential election and asserting at least some impact on that election (obviously, even if the allegations of meddling are true, there is no way to prove that the meddling was decisive in the outcome of the election).

The Post reports that President Obama today ordered a "full review" of Russian hacking during the presidential campaign, asking that a report be completed before he leaves office. (Some Democratic senators have already asked Obama to declassify parts of the CIA's assessment that was given in the briefing last week and share it with the public.)

One undertone to this story: Depending on whether actual evidence emerges, Obama is potentially going to face a lot of scrutiny on the complicated decision not to make more detailed information public prior to the election.

(RE: actual evidence, one more time with feeling: unnamed CIA sources don't count...we'll have to wait and see if verifiable evidence comes out.)

Likewise, Sen. Harry Reid's letter in late October accusing FBI Director James Comey of a "disturbing double standard for the treatment of sensitive information" now looks like it was on more solid ground than we knew at the time:


[UPDATE: Reid told a Bloomberg reporter last night, "I was right, Comey was wrong. He needs to look in the mirror and see what he did to our country. I hope he's proud of himself."]

I'll say this much — Mitch McConnell and other Republican congressmen, if the Post's sources are accurate, come off as pure partisan operators in the midst of a potentially sticky national security situation (McConnell declined to comment to the Post). Here's what happened when the White House attempted to communicate with congressional leaders about their concerns in mid-September:
[O]fficials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 — a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.

Obama dispatched Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.

Specifically, the White House wanted congressional leaders to sign off on a bipartisan statement urging state and local officials to take federal help in protecting their voting-registration and balloting machines from Russian cyber-intrusions.

Though U.S. intelligence agencies were skeptical that hackers would be able to manipulate the election results in a systematic way, the White House feared that Russia would attempt to do so, sowing doubt about the fundamental mechanisms of democracy and potentially forcing a more dangerous confrontation between Washington and Moscow.

In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals.

And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”

The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.

According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.

Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.
Of course, a few weeks later, Congressional Republicans were aggressively pushing the Comey letter "in the final stages of an election."

Evan McMullin, the former congressional Republican staffer who ran as an independent conservative candidate, has harsh criticism for GOP leaders like McConnell:

Of course, if the CIA has concluded that Russia actively worked to swing the election and that assessment has strong evidence behind it, it's now vitally important to investigate further! In that scenario, will Trump and Republicans be willing to do so?

Trump's response to the Post story was...Trump-y:


That second sentence is a lie; Trump's electoral margin was below average. Forty-five times a presidential candidate has had more decisive wins in the electoral college. But whatever, Trump lies about random stuff all the time. There are bigger fish to fry.


Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

Add a comment