Top U.S. Spy Agency Disses CIA Report on Russian Hacking

Intelligence officials say it would be impossible to know Kremlin's intent was to help Trump

Top officials in the U.S. intelligence community reportedly do not share the opinion of 17 unnamed CIA sources who claimed Russian hackers sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election to benefit President-Elect Donald Trump.

Three officials in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) suggested there was no way intelligence officials could prove the Russian government’s intent was to aid Trump, according to Reuters.

“[It was] a thin reed upon which to base an analytical judgment.”

“ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” one of the three officials told Reuters. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”

The official noted that 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,” adding, “[It was] a thin reed upon which to base an analytical judgment.”

The FBI also declined to accept the entirety of the CIA’s report due to a lack of sufficient evidence to back up the claims, the source added. Simply because the Republican Party and its candidates did not experience the level of hacking exposure the Democratic Party suffered does not offer conclusive evidence of the hackers’ intent.

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The ODNI oversees the 17 agencies that fall within the U.S. intelligence community and was established after 9/11. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, also heads the ODNI.

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The ODNI’s and the FBI’s willingness to throw cold water on any conclusions on the hackers’ intent provides more credibility to Trump’s pushback against claims saying the Russians interfered on his behalf. Calling the CIA report “ridiculous,” Trump said it only offered another “excuse” for those who are grasping at straws to delegitimize his victory during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Russia didn’t dictate the election’s outcome, Trump said — the American people did.

The Clinton campaign signaled Monday that it would continue fighting Trump’s legitimate election. Campaign Chairman John Podesta announced Monday the Clinton campaign would support the request of several Electoral College members to receive an intelligence briefing concerning alleged foreign intervention in the presidential election before they cast their states’ votes. Podesta cited the reasoning behind the campaign’s decision: because it “decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump.”

But as the three intelligence sources have indicated, there is no conclusive evidence at this time to support the CIA’s report and the Democrats’ theories. The sources’ message is clear: Democrats and their allies in the media should not be jumping to conclusions.

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