Top US Intelligence Agency Doesn’t Support CIA Assessment on Russian Hacking: Report

December 14, 2016 Updated: December 14, 2016    

Several sources told Reuters that overseers of the U.S. intelligence community don’t support the CIA’s assessment that Russian hackers swayed the election in favor of Donald Trump.

Unnamed officials told Reuters on Tuesday that the agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), said there is a lack of evidence that the Kremlin was trying to propel Trump over rival Hillary Clinton.

Several days ago, The Washington Post reported the CIA has “high confidence” that the “Russian government helped the campaign of Donald Trump,” an allegation that has been repeated by top U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama. In a later Post article, the FBI has indicated that it’s not buying the claim that Russia’s government attempted to boost Trump.

“ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one of the three U.S. officials familiar with the ODNI, which oversees 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, according to Reuters. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”

In October, the U.S. government, in a post on the Department of Homeland Security’s website, formally accused Russia of engaging in cyber attacks against U.S. political organizations before the election. President Obama said he’s warned Russia and President Vladimir Putin of consequences.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations,” the statement read. “The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.”

Now, members of Congress, following the Post’s claims, have called for an investigation into the Russian hacks, while the White House has announced it would carry out an internal review before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. It’s been reported, however, the findings of the review won’t be made public.

The CIA’s conclusion was a “judgment based on the fact that Russian entities hacked both Democrats and Republicans and only the Democratic information was leaked,” one of the three officials told Reuters.

“(It was) a thin reed upon which to base an analytical judgment,” the official noted.

The ODNI was created following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to improve coordination between U.S. intelligence agencies.

Now, a few dozen members of the Electoral College—mostly Democrats—have demanded the intelligence briefing on Russian hacks. Politico reported that by Tuesday night, 54 of the 232 Democratic electors want ODNI Director James Clapper to brief them ahead of their Dec. 19 meeting. One Republican “faithless elector,” of Texas, joined them.

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