US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in last month’s presidential election to boost Donald Trump’s bid for the White House, according to reports.
A secret CIA assessment found that Russian operatives covertly interfered in the election campaign in an attempt to ensure the Republican candidate’s victory, the Washington Post reported, citing officials briefed on the matter.
A separate report in the New York Times said intelligence officials had a “high confidence” that Russia was involved in hacking related to the election.
The revelations came after the US president, Barack Obama, ordered a review of all cyberattacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle, amid growing calls from Congress for more information on the extent of Russian interference in the campaign.
According to the Washington Post, individuals with connections to Moscow provided the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks with emails hacked from the Democratic national committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, among others.
Those individuals were “one step” removed from the Russian government, consistent with past practice by Moscow to use “middlemen” in sensitive intelligence operations to preserve plausible deniability, 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,” a senior US official briefed on an intelligence presentation last week to key senators was quoted 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.
However, some questions remain unanswered and the CIA’s assessment fell short of a formal US assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies, the report said.
For example, intelligence agents do not have proof that Russian officials directed the identified individuals to supply WikiLeaks with the hacked Democratic emails.
The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied any links with Russia.
President-elect Trump has rejected the intelligence community’s conclusion of Russian involvement. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said on Friday.
“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 New York Times reported that senior administration officials were confident Russian hackers infiltrated the Republican national committee’s computer systems as well as those of the Democratic party.
It said those same officials believed the hackers did not release information gleaned from the Republican networks.
The Russians were said to have passed on the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks, it was reported.