Rus­sia in­ter­fered in US elec­tion to help Trump win: CIA re­port


Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: A se­cret CIA as­sess­ment has found that Rus­sia sought to tip last month’s US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Don­ald Trump’s fa­vor, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported Fri­day, a con­clu­sion that drew an ex­tra­or­di­nary re­buke from the pres­i­dent-elect’s camp. “These are the same peo­ple that said Sad­dam Hus­sein had weapons of mass de­struc­tion,” Trump’s tran­si­tion team said, launch­ing a broad­side against the spy agency. “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.’”

The Wash­ing­ton Post re­port comes af­ter Pres­i­dent Barack Obama or­dered a re­view of all cy­ber­at­tacks that took place dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cy­cle, amid grow­ing calls from Congress for more in­for­ma­tion on the ex­tent of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the cam­paign. The news­pa­per cited of­fi­cials briefed on the mat­ter as say­ing that in­di­vid­u­als with con­nec­tions to Moscow pro­vided anti-se­crecy web­site Wik­iLeaks with emails hacked from the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign chief and others.

Rus­sia’s goal

Those emails were steadily leaked out via Wik­iLeaks in the months be­fore the elec­tion, dam­ag­ing Clin­ton’s White House run. The Rus­sians’ aim was to help Don­ald Trump win and not just un­der­mine the US elec­toral process, the pa­per re­ported. “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,” the news­pa­per quoted a se­nior US of­fi­cial briefed on an in­tel­li­gence pre­sen­ta­tion last week to key se­na­tors as say­ing. “That’s the con­sen­sus view.”

CIA agents told the law­mak­ers it was “quite clear” that elect­ing Trump was Rus­sia’s goal, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials who spoke to the Post, cit­ing grow­ing ev­i­dence from mul­ti­ple sources. Rus­sian hack­ers did not limit their hits to the Democrats, ac­cord­ing to The New York Times. “We now have high con­fi­dence that they hacked the DNC and the RNC, and con­spic­u­ously re­leased no doc­u­ments” from the Repub­li­can or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Times cited one se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial as say­ing, re­fer­ring to the Rus­sians.

The Times also ques­tioned when Rus­sia started sup­port­ing Trump. “It is .... far from clear that Rus­sia’s orig­i­nal in­tent was to sup­port Mr Trump, and many in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials - and for­mer of­fi­cials in Mrs. Clin­ton’s cam­paign be­lieve that the pri­mary mo­tive of the Rus­sians was to sim­ply dis­rupt the cam­paign and un­der­cut con­fi­dence in the in­tegrity of the vote,” the Times re­port added.

Ques­tion marks

How­ever, some questions re­main unan­swered and the CIA’s as­sess­ment fell short of a for­mal US as­sess­ment pro­duced by all 17 in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, the news­pa­per said. For ex­am­ple, in­tel­li­gence agents don’t have proof that Rus­sian of­fi­cials di­rected the iden­ti­fied in­di­vid­u­als to sup­ply Wik­iLeaks with the hacked Demo­cratic emails. Wik­iLeaks founder Ju­lian As­sange has de­nied links with Rus­sia’s gov­ern­ment.

Those in­di­vid­u­als were “one step” re­moved from the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, which is con­sis­tent with past prac­tices by Moscow to use “mid­dle­men” in sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions to pre­serve plau­si­ble de­ni­a­bil­ity, the re­port 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,” said Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can con­gress­man Devin Nunes, the chair of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee and a mem­ber of the Trump tran­si­tion team. “There’s a lot of in­nu­endo, lots of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, that’s it.”

At the White House, Deputy Press Sec­re­tary Eric Schultz said Obama called for the cy­ber­at­tacks re­view ear­lier this week to en­sure “the in­tegrity of our elec­tions.” “This re­port will dig into this pat­tern of ma­li­cious cy­ber­ac­tiv­ity timed to our elec­tions, take stock of our de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties and cap­ture lessons learned to make sure that we brief mem­bers of Congress and stake­hold­ers as ap­pro­pri­ate,” Schultz said.

Obama wants the re­port com­pleted be­fore his term ends on Jan­uary 20. “We are go­ing to make pub­lic as much as we can,” the spokesman added. “This is a ma­jor pri­or­ity for the pres­i­dent.” The move comes af­ter Democrats in Congress pressed the White House to re­veal de­tails, to Congress or to the pub­lic, of Rus­sian hack­ing and dis­in­for­ma­tion in the elec­tion.

On Oc­to­ber 7, one month be­fore the elec­tion, the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence an­nounced that “the Rus­sian Gov­ern­ment di­rected the re­cent com­pro­mises of emails from US per­sons and in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing from US po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions.” “These thefts and dis­clo­sures are in­tended to in­ter­fere with the US elec­tion process,” they said.

Trump dis­missed those find­ings in an interview pub­lished Wed­nes­day by Time mag­a­zine for its “Per­son of the Year” award. Asked if the in­tel­li­gence was politi­cized, Trump an­swered: “I think so.” “I don’t be­lieve they in­ter­fered,” he said. “It could be Rus­sia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”


GRAND RAPIDS: Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump waves to the crowd as he ar­rives onstage at the DeltaPlex Arena.

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