The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded in a secret probe that Russia actively engaged in an effort to subvert the U.S. election to help Trump win the presidency.
Trump responded to the findings through his transition team in a statement loaded with hyperbole.
It declared the month-old election over “a long time ago.”
And, it sharply discredited the CIA, the nation’s premiere intelligence agency
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. 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 statement read.
Hussein was linked to WMDs more than 14 years ago during President George W. Bush’s administration. Trump’s margin of victory in the electoral college is far from historic. He lost the election by 2.7 million popular votes.
The agency’s findings have yet to be made public. But Capitol Hill lawmakers and likely President Obama were briefed last week. Obama ordered a full-scale investigation of Russia’s involvement in the election today.
Senators were told the evidence is “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, a source with knowledge of the briefing told The Washington Post.
If the Trump campaign and Trump himself worked with Russian agents, or had knowledge they were working on his behalf and covered it up, Trump could face impeachment proceedings.
The CIA’s findings shed disturbing new light on Russian boasts about connections to Trump’s campaign.
Senior administration officials said with a high degree of confidence that Russian hackers also cracked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems, but did not release information gleaned from the Republican networks, according to The New York Times.
Russia conceivably could use that information to compromise Trump or blackmail him.
Money & Power reported Nov. 13 that a senior Russian diplomat confirmed that key members of Trump’s campaign were in touch with Russian officials during the election.
“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “… I cannot say that all of them but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”
The contacts “were on a sufficient, responsible level,” Ryabkov said in an interview with the state-run Interfax news agency.
Shortly after the first batch of stolen emails were released on Wikileaks over the summer, U.S. Intelligence agencies said that Russia was likely behind the Democratic National Committee hack.
But the CIA said it has actually identified individuals with Russian government connections. They dumped thousands of hacked DNC emails on Wikileaks, according to The Post.
The release of the emails disrupted the Democratic National Convention.
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned on the eve of the convention after private emails showed Democratic officials trying to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign.
Sources told The Post the individuals involved were known to the intelligence community. They were part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances, the report said.
“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 a senior U.S. official who was briefed on the intelligence presentation. “That’s the consensus view.”
Trump and officials surrounding him may be trying to cover up Russian involvement.
Trump told Time magazine this week he didn’t believe Russia was involved. The hacking “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey,” he insisted.
At the moment, it’s still not known whether Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, were directly involved in the effort. Those involved in the hacking were described as “middle men.”
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, said in a Russian television interview that the Russian government did not provide the emails.
On Capitol Hill, Democratic senators are seeking more information and are planning to hold their own hearings. House Democrats also want more information.
Trump made no secret of his fondness for Putin during the campaign.
Two top campaign aides, Michael Flynn and Carter Page have extensive ties to the Russian dictator. Flynn has since been named Trump’s National Security Adviser.
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