Here's What You Need To Know About Russia Hacking The Election

A month after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, the CIA has concluded that Russia wanted to help him win the presidency.

According to a Washington Post report on December 9, a secret assessment from the CIA found that President Vladimir Putin wasn't just trying to undermine the U.S. election, but leave his mark on it. It was the first time that the agency said Russia was specifically trying to sway the outcome of this election to a specific candidate.

The CIA gave its latest evaluation to "key senators" in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post reported that briefers told senators that it was now “quite clear” that Russia’s goal in leaking emails from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Convention, and those in her campaign, was to get Trump elected. This information comes from officials who spoke to the paper on the condition of anonymity.

“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 told the Washington Post. “That’s the consensus view."

The New York Times
reported that the CIA based its conclusion on the Russia hacking, in part, on the fact that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee, but didn't release any information or emails. According to the paper, the agency had "high confidence" that the RNC had been hacked, despite previous reports that it hadn't.

Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, tweeted, "The RNC was not 'hacked.' The @nytimes was told and chose to ignore. Exhibit #1 in the fake news." Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, also refuted this report on Meet The Press, saying, the "RNC was absolutely not hacked." He claims that the FBI was called in after the DNC hack and found no evidence of hacking in the RNC's computer system.

It should be noted that the CIA presentation on Russia's influence of the election did fall short of a formal U.S. assessment, which would include all 17 intelligence agencies. It was also reported by a senior official in attendance that there were "minor disagreements" among the intelligence officials due to the fact that there are still questions that need to be answered.

For now, here is what we do know.

Photo: Manuel Medir/Getty Images.
What is President Obama doing with this new information?

According to the Washington Post, POTUS has asked for a "full review" of Russian hacking during the 2016 election. Obama has reportedly gotten pressure from Congress to help give the public greater understanding of how and what Moscow did to influence the election, specifically the electoral process.

In late November, seven Democratic senators wrote a letter to the president asking for him to "declassify" information on the Russia hacking, specifically what was shared in the CIA's presentation.

Obama is looking for this report, led by James Clapper, the outgoing director of national intelligence, to be finished before he leaves office on January 20.

Lisa Monaco, Obama's counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, told reporters that "we may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned."
Photo: Jabin Botsford/Getty Images.
How has Donald Trump and his team responded to this news?

Trump and his transition team dismissed the findings, releasing a short statement that went after the CIA. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the statement read. "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.'"

This is not the first time Trump has dismissed the findings of the intelligence community regarding Russian hacking. In his interview for Time's Person of the Year issue, he said, “I don’t believe [Russia] interfered” in the election, saying the hacking “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

On Sunday, Trump appeared on Fox News Sunday and said, "I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it."
Photo: Noam Galai/FilmMagic.
What has been the response from Democrats?

"Congress's national security committees have worked diligently to address the complex challenge of cybersecurity, but recent events show that more must be done." That was the message from New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader.

According to CNN, he, along with a bipartisan group of senators, including Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham, believe the public has a right to know more about what exactly Russia's role was in the 2016 election.

"While protecting classified material, we have an obligation to inform the public about recent cyber attacks that have cut to the heart of our free society," Schumer said. "Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyber-attacks."
Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images.
How are Republicans reacting to the news?

Like Trump, there are those that are skeptical of these findings.

“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”

But The New York Times reported that Trump's choice to mock the CIA put him at odds with members of the GOP. According to the paper, "many Republicans on the congressional intelligence committees" have stated that they were given "significant evidence" in closed briefings that Russia was meddling in the election.

These Republican leaders don't deny Russia played a role in the election, but they would like to investigate further into the country's intent to determine if it was to help Trump get elected. They also question what evidence the CIA has that makes them so sure the RNC was hacked, despite the FBI allegedly saying this is not so. That evidence was not revealed during the CIA's presentation.

Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who is the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and was a candidate to be Trump's secretary of Homeland Security, said that the CIA's findings were “a call to action" — something Sen. John McCain seconded.
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