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.
The CIA concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help President-elect Donald Trump win the White House, and not just to undermine confidence in the US electoral system.
“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.´”
Citing US officials briefed on the matter, the Post said intelligence agencies had identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, to WikiLeaks.
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.
Intelligence agencies did not have specific intelligence showing the Kremlin directed the individuals to pass the hacked emails to WikiLeaks, another senior official told the Post. The actors were ‘one step’ removed from the Russian government rather than government employees, the official said.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said in a television interview that the Russian government was not the source of the emails, the Post said.