WASHINGTON (AFP) – A secret CIA assessment has found that Russia sought to tip last month’s US presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, The Washington Post reported Friday, a conclusion that drew an extraordinary rebuke from the president-elect’s camp.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said, launching a broadside against the spy agency.
“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 Washington Post report comes after 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.
The newspaper cited officials briefed on the matter as saying that individuals with connections to Moscow provided anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks with emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief and others.
Those emails were steadily leaked out via WikiLeaks in the months before the election, damaging Clinton’s White House run.
The Russians’ aim was to help Donald Trump win and not just undermine the US electoral process, the paper reported.
“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,” the newspaper quoted a senior US official briefed on an intelligence presentation last week to key senators 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.