A secret CIA assessment concluded the reason Russia interfered with the 2016 election was not simply to stoke chaos and undermine faith in the U.S. electoral system, as some have argued, but to explicitly help Donald Trump win the presidency, the Washington Post reports.
President Obama Friday ordered a full report on Russian efforts to influence the election, due before the president leaves office on January 20. President’s successor Donald Trump, who's reportedly only receiving one intelligence briefing per week, has said he doesn’t believe the Russians interfered with the election, instead suggesting reports to the contrary are the result of partisan politics.
“We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Lisa Monaco, Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, said of the review at a breakfast for the Christian Science Monitor.
He’s not the only one. During a briefing laying out U.S. agency evidence of Russia’s involvement, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly “raise doubt about the underlying intelligence,” insisting would regard any public challenge based on the actions “an act of partisan politics,” the Post reports.
“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence—even now,” Trump transition team member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told the Post. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
Part of that circumstantial evidence is a tweet sent Friday by Wikileaks purported to admit some guilt on the part of the transparency website. Wikileaks posted a link to an article about Obama's full report request and asked for donations from readers. The CNN article it posted made no mention of WikiLeaks at the time.
Wikileaks is the website responsible with publishing hacked emails from Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta, releasing damning DNC information during the general election campaign. For his part, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said the source of the Clinton campaign emails was "not state parties."
Despite what McConnell, Trump and other Republicans may say, a senior U.S. official told the Post it’s clear the Russians hoped to help Trump over Clinton. “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 said. “That’s the consensus view.”
In a statement Friday, the Trump campaign addressed the report, insisting, "it's now time to move on":
"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.'"