The CIA believes that Russia intentionally meddled in the US election specifically to help Donald Trump win.
Intelligence officials believe they have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who allegedly gave WikiLeaks thousands of hacked emails and other documents, The Post wrote.
During the election, WikiLeaks regularly published hacked documents that were damaging to Democratic Party organizations and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. The email dump reached a fever pitch in the final weeks of the election.
WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, has denied his organization played any role in Russia’s alleged meddling.
The Trump transition team released a remarkable statement Friday casting doubt on the reported findings.
“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.'”
- Rebecca Cook/Reuters
In private meetings last week, the CIA told senators the evidence they gathered demonstrates it is “quite clear” Russia aimed to help ensure a Trump victory.
Initially, the inclination within the US intelligence community was that Russia simply sought to undermine the integrity of the election. That assertion was bolstered by concerns that the Kremlin might attempt to hack voting machines on Election Day.
But, as The Post’s Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller wrote, official findings have led US intelligence experts to believe Russia was aiming for a specific result – a President-elect Donald Trump.
“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 an unnamed senior US official who was briefed on the matter and cited by The Post.
The New York Times cited a senior Obama administration official who said “We now have high confidence that they hacked the DNC and the RNC, and conspicuously released no documents” related to Republicans.
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In addition to the release of hacked emails, a flood of disinformation and conspiracy theories was widely circulated on the internet in the form of false stories that were peddled as news. Much of that fake news – which almost exclusively targeted Hillary Clinton – gained tremendous popularity on social networks like Facebook for months leading up to November 8.
News of the CIA’s findings came as President Barack Obama ordered a complete review of the matter Friday.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence officially accused Russia of hacking the Democratic Party citing multiple cyberattacks against the organization.
- Reuters/Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Business Insider/Skye Gould
US intelligence officials have previously been cautious about accusing Russia of helping Trump win the election as they have faced challenges gathering intelligence about President Vladimir Putin, The Post reported.
Democrats have criticized the Obama administration’s extremely cautious approach to pointing fingers at Russia.
According to the report, when the Obama administration tried to form a bipartisan coalition that would publicly accuse Russia of undermining the election, their plan was met with opposition from skeptical Republicans.
The Post noted that California Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and is a member of the Trump transition team, said he would “be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell implied he would accuse Obama of partisan politics if Obama publicly challenged Russia.