The Washington Post released a bombshell report Friday that outlined conclusive evidence Russia was behind Democratic National Committee email hacks in an attempt to swing the November election in Republican Donald Trump’s favor.
Although Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign was widely suspected, anonymous sources said the CIA confirmed to Senate members that the clandestine agency has proof of the Kremlin’s involvement.
“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 U.S. official said. “That’s the consensus view.”
Although the Post‘s story was interpreted as a final confirmation for some, not everyone agrees. President-elect Trump, who shrugged off reports of Russia’s tampering during the election season, flatly denied the new evidence during an interview on Fox News.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it,” he said.
In a statement released after the story was published, Trump dismissed the CIA’s credibility, and pointed to George W. Bush administration’s missteps as evidence.
“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 statement said.
As expected, many Democrats have increased their calls for an investigation into the matter, which is mostly divided on party lines, with many Republicans either downplaying the issue, or remaining silent on the topic.
Some Republicans, however, have expressed concern about a foreign power meddling in U.S. elections, particularly Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). A statement released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which McCain chairs, warned that, “Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.”
A statement by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is a member of the House intelligence committee, was more pointed.
“One would also have to be willfully blind not to see that these Russian actions were uniformly damaging to Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump,” he said. “I do not believe this was coincidental or unintended.”
Although questions remain on how an investigation would be handled, the real question many are asking whether or not Trump would have been elected without Russia’s help. Although the New York businessman likes to wax poetic about his electoral landslide, the numbers tell a different story: Trump won many states by a thin margin.
The answer on whether or not there would have been a different outcome without Russia’s help is merely rhetorical.
What is not being questioned, however, is Trump’s disregard and disdain for the intelligence community. Analysts were hopeful that Trump’s campaign rhetoric was just a farce, and the president-elect would be open and receptive to vital national security news. That does not seem to be the case.
“There’s a real revolt going on,” a former intelligence officer who has spoken to those still inside the federal government’s intelligence apparatus said. “They don’t like [National Security Adviser nominee Michael] Flynn and they hate Trump’s guts. This is their whole life’s work being thrown out the door. They feel like the whole intelligence committee is on probation.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin has denied any involvement in the hacking of internal DNC documents.