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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The DNI and CIA don't agree with Russian hack assessment

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the agency that oversees our entire intelligence community, does not fully concur with the CIA finding that Russia interfered in the U.S. elections in an effort to help Donald Trump win.

Several U.S. election-related hacking incidents are being categorized as if they are related, but DNI believes they should be treated as separate events. 

The hacking involves breaches at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and another campaign arm. It also involves an email account of a top campaign official for Clinton, and at state election boards.

Although ODNI doesn't dispute the CIA analysis on the Russian hacking, the office isn't convinced that Moscow sought specifically to help Trump beat Clinton. So, it is intent that's at issue here.

The CIA made the call regarding Russia's intent based solely on the fact that only Democratic information was leaked. The ODNI official said that this is a "thin reed upon which to base an analytical judgment."

Perhaps the fact that Donald Trump and other Republicans did not have a private email server hidden in a bathroom closet in Colorado may have made it somewhat more difficult for the Russians to hack the GOP.

Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, was the person whose email was hacked and he is backing the call for electors to get an intelligence briefing on the situation with Russian interference in the election.

The difference of opinion between the CIA and ODNI was first revealed in a letter on Monday from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) to Director of Intelligence and Ed Rollins lookalike, James Clapper. It noted that the CIA findings conflicted with Clapper's public testimony in mid-November.

"On November 17, 2016, you told the Committee during an open hearing that the IC [Intelligence Community] lacked strong evidence connecting Russian government cyberattacks and WikiLeaks disclosures," Nunes wrote.

Clapper, in response to a question from ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, said "As far as the WikiLeaks connection, the evidence there is not as strong and we don't have good insight into the sequencing of the releases or when the data may have been provided. We don't have as good insight into that."

Nunes is requesting a briefing from the CIA and FBI on the current assessment of alleged involvement by Russia as it relates to our election--he wants it by Dec. 16 as the electors are to cast their votes for the presidential selection on Dec. 19.

The Post reported that the FBI gave a different account on Russian interference and that the CIA assessment was based, in part, on intelligence indicating Moscow's hacking disproportionately affected Democratic targets.