Intel Officials: “Russia Was Trying To Help Trump Win”
A secret CIA assessment reportedly concludes that Russia intervened in the 2016 election with the explicit aim of helping Trump win the presidency, rather than just sowing chaos in the American electoral process. This was reported to be a “consensus” view of the intelligence community. President Obama directs the intelligence community to conduct a thorough review of what happened during the election. The Trump transition team responds with a statement that reads: “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 CIA has played a significant role in the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Along with being party to many of the broader intelligence community’s reports and briefings regarding that interference, the CIA and its leaders have taken actions individually as well.
The CIA reportedly began investigating the contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives after receiving intelligence from European agencies regarding those contacts. In April 2016, the CIA reportedly received “a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign” from “an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States,” leading CIA Director John Brennan to create a task force of six intelligence agencies and government departments. On August 4, 2016, Brennan called Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s federal security service, to “warn him against further interference.”
On December 9, 2016, The Washington Post reported that a secret CIA assessment had concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election with the explicit aim of helping Trump win. According to the report, the conclusion reflected the “consensus” view of the intelligence community, and prompted President Barack Obama to direct the intelligence community to conduct a thorough review of what happened during the election. The Trump transition team, however, cast doubt on the assessment, releasing a statement saying, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
Since Trump took office, however, his CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, has attempted to muddy the waters regarding the CIA and the broader intelligence community’s conclusions. On October 19, 2017, Pompeo falsely said that the “intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.” (The intelligence community’s report does not take any position as to whether Russian interference affected the election’s results.) His inaccurate statement drew an immediate response not only from Democrats but also from the CIA itself, whose spokesman Dean Boyd said, “The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed, and the director did not intend to suggest that it had.”