The CIA and FBI both agree that Russia did interfere in the presidential election, but they disagree on Russia’s motives. In its briefing to Congress, the CIA was clear in its belief that Russia acted in order to aid Donald Trump.
‘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. That’s the consensus view.’
The FBI’s report was much less sure. The bureau agrees that Russia was behind the hacks, but, as one official noted, they aren’t sure of the reasoning behind those hacks.
‘There’s no question that [the Russians’] efforts went one way, but it’s not clear that they have a specific goal or mix of related goals’
One official said that part of this was due to cultural differences within the two organizations. The FBI is fundamentally a law enforcement agency, whereas the CIA is an intelligence organization.
‘The FBI briefers think in terms of criminal standards — can we prove this in court. The CIA briefers weigh the preponderance of intelligence and then make judgment calls to help policymakers make informed decisions. High confidence for them means “we’re pretty damn sure.” It doesn’t mean they can prove it in court’
The confusion surrounding the event is likely part of the reason President Obama has ordered a review of the hack to be concluded before he leaves office in January. The president has said he will declassify as much of the report as is possible. Lawmakers, such as Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-California), want the review to be accompanied by a congressional investigation.
‘Only in this way can the American people know the extent of Russian interference, and we can attempt to inoculate ourselves against continued meddling in our elections.’
Maine Sen. Angus King (I) has requested the intelligence community’s information be made public in an effort to prevent such attacks in the future. King noted that Russia regularly attempts to interfere in the elections of European governments.
‘It could happen in the midterms. It could be in the next presidential election. They have shown us that they are capable and willing to do it here. For us not to react with the highest level of investigation and preparing responsive measures would be negligent.’
Lawmakers from both parties have expressed outrage at the hack and urged a full investigation. However, the parties seem to be divided as to which intelligence community they agree with. Democrats appear to back the CIA’s assertion that the hacks were intended to aid Trump. Republicans, including the president-elect, in agreement with the FBI, argue that there is not enough information to make that conclusion. Representative Devin Nunes (R-California) was one such person.
‘There is no clear evidence — even now. There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.’
Hopefully, President Obama’s review will clear up this issue. The seriousness of these allegations demands our government take action. We should know more in the coming months.
Featured image via Getty Images.