The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
“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,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That's the consensus view.”
In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals.
And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”
In his statement, Schumer said the idea that any country “could be meddling in our elections should shake both political parties to their core.” He added that silence from WikiLeaks and others has been “deafening.”
“Senate Democrats will join with our Republican colleagues next year to demand a congressional investigation and hearings to get to the bottom of this,” Schumer said. “It's imperative that our intelligence community turns over any relevant information so that Congress can conduct a full investigation.”
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in a television interview that the “Russian government is not the source.”
The Trump transition team dismissed the findings in a short statement issued Friday evening. “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 read.
Trump has consistently dismissed the intelligence community’s findings about Russian hacking.
“I don’t believe they interfered” in the election, he told Time magazine this week. The hacking, he said, “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
The White House and President Obama had ordered a “full review” of Russian hacking during the presidential campaign, as pressure from Congress has grown for greater public understanding of exactly what Moscow did to influence the electoral process.
Adam Entous and Greg Miller contributed to this report.