The CIA determined that individuals linked to Moscow stole Democratic party emails, according to the Washington Post. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images
CIA concludes Russia interfered to help Trump win election, say reports
Agency reportedly believes individuals acting for Moscow hacked Democrat party emails and gave them to WikiLeaks
Source: The Guardian
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in last month’s presidential election to boost Donald Trump’s bid for the White House, according to reports.
A secret CIA assessment found that Russian operatives covertly interfered in the election campaign in an attempt to ensure the Republican candidate’s victory, the Washington Post reported, citing officials briefed on the matter.
A separate report in the New York Times said intelligence officials had a “high confidence” that Russia was involved in hacking related to the election.
The claims immediately drew a stinging rebuke from the president-elect’s transition team, which said in a statement: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
According to the Post’s report, officials briefed on the matter were told that intelligence agencies had found that individuals linked to the Russian government had provided WikiLeaks with thousands of confidential emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and others.
They told the paper that the people involved were known to US intelligence and acted as part of a Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt the chances of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favour one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” one said.
The emails were steadily leaked via WikiLeaks in the months before the election, damaging Clinton’s White House run by revealing that DNC figures had colluded to harm the chances of her nomination rival Bernie Sanders, and later giving examples of collusion between her campaign and figures in the media to blindside Trump in debates.
A separate report in the New York Times, also sourced to unnamed officials, claimed US intelligence agencies had discovered that Russian hackers had also penetrated the Republican National Committee’s networks, but conspicuously chose to release only the information stolen from the Democrats.
A third report, by Reuters, said intelligence agencies assessed that as the campaign drew on, Russian government officials devoted increasing attention to assisting Trump’s effort to win the election. Virtually all the emails they released publicly were potentially damaging to Clinton and the Democrats, the official told Reuters.
“That was a major clue to their intent,” the official said. “If all they wanted to do was discredit our political system, why publicise the failings of just one party, especially when you have a target like Trump?”
A second official familiar with the report said the intelligence analysts’ conclusion about Russia’s motives did not mean the intelligence community believed that Moscow’s efforts altered or significantly affected the outcome of the election.
The Kremlin has rejected the hacking accusations, while the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has previously said the DNC leaks were not linked to Russia. A second senior official cited by the Washington Post conceded that intelligence agencies did not have specific proof that the Kremlin was “directing” the hackers, who were said to be one step removed from the Russian government.
Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”
“I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.
“If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States.
“America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”
The California Republican congressman Devin Nunes, chair of the House intelligence committee and a member of the Trump transition team, said: “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. There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
On Friday the White House announced that Obama had ordered intelligence officials to conduct a broad review of election-season cyber-attacks, including the email hacks, to report before he leaves office on 20 January.
The review, led by intelligence agencies, will be a “deep dive” into a possible pattern of increased “malicious cyber activity” during the campaign season, the White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. It would look at the tactics, targets, key actors and the US government’s response to the recent email hacks, as well as incidents reported in past elections, he said.
“The president wanted this done under his watch because he takes it very seriously,” he said. “We are committed to ensuring the integrity of our elections.”
Schultz said the president had ordered the inquiry as a way of improving US defence against cyber-attacks and did not intend to question the legitimacy of Trump’s victory. “This is not an effort to challenge the outcome of the election,” he said.
The Washington Post reported that US intelligence agencies were sceptical about the possibility that hackers would have been able to systematically manipulate the results of the election.
A CIA spokeswoman told Reuters that the agency had no comment on the matter.
Published on Dec 9, 2016
From the Associated Press:
President Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct a broad review of election-season cyber hacking, including the email hacks that rattled the presidential campaign and raised fresh concerns about Russia's meddling in U.S. elections, the White House said Friday.
The review, led by intelligence agencies, will be a "deep dive" into a possible pattern of increased "malicious cyber activity" timed to the campaign season, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. The review will look at the tactics, targets, key actors and the U.S. government's response to the recent email hacks, as well as incidents reported in past elections, he said.
The president ordered up the report earlier this week and asked that it be completed before he leaves office next month, Schultz said.
"The president wanted this done under his watch because he takes it very seriously," he said. "We are committed to ensuring the integrity of our elections."