US intelligence leaders agree on Russian intervention in election
Washington, Dec 17 (IANS) Major US intelligence leaders have expressed support for an assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency that Russia intervened in the November 8 election to help Donald Trump win the White House, the media reported on Saturday.
CIA Director John Brennan said he met Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey and Director of the National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper earlier this week, and “there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election”.
“The three of us agree that our organisations, along with others, need to focus on completing the thorough review of the issue directed by President Barack Obama and which is being led by the DNI,” Xinhua news agency quoted Brennan as saying.
However, the US intelligence community did not think Russia had a “single purpose” by doing so.
Earlier this month, Obama ordered a full review of the Russian hacking before he leaves the office, expecting it would provide “a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations”.
However, Trump has consistently dismissed the CIA findings about the Russian hacking, describing them “ridiculous” and hinting the White House only bothered to look into the matter now that he has won the presidency.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday said the President had known about the hacking prior to the election, but refrained from acting on it to avoid being seen as meddling in the election.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that hacker groups linked to the Russian government have been actively trying to obtain information from the Democratic National Committee of the US since last year.
Trump’s rant came as a deep rift between Trump and the establishment widened regarding their stance on Russia.
Trump on Tuesday nominated Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, who is known to have close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as his Secretary of State.
The nomination faces potential hurdles in Congress, with members of Republican Party threatening to vote against it.
At a news conference during the presidential campaign in July, Trump encouraged Russia to hack his rival Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email system and reveal the contents.
“I will tell you this, Russia: if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” said Trump, referring to half of the emails deleted from Clinton’s private email server as she claimed they merely contained personal information.
The Trump team later characterised that remark as a joke.