The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Russian hacking activities during the 2016 presidential election was aimed at influencing the election in favor of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump. Numerous intelligence agencies have found that individuals that provided Wikileaks with thousands of hacked emails, notably from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, had connections to the Russian government. Their conclusion has been dismissed by president-elect Trump, and has prompted president Obama to order an investigation into the matter, to be concluded before he leaves office.
In a meeting with several U.S. senators earlier this month, CIA officials said that they were confident that Russia’s intent was to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump. They cited evidence that servers with both the DNC and RNC were successfully hacked, but files from Republican sources were, quite conspicuously, not released to the public. “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,” explained a senior U.S. official who was briefed on the presentation. “That’s the consensus view.”
Despite this consensus, there are questions regarding the specific motives of the perpetrators, and despite the involvement of organized groups such as the Internet Research Agency, a known Saint Petersburg-based "troll farm" headed by Vladimir Putin associate Evgeny Prigozhin, there is currently a lack of evidence that they were specifically directed by Kremlin officials to do so.
President-elect Trump has dismissed these claims, and in the process attacked the credibility of the U.S. intelligence agencies reporting on the case. “I don’t believe they interfered. It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey,” Trump told Time magazine. Trump has offered no evidence to back up his belief that Russia was not involved. Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, also asserts that the “Russian government is not the source” of the hacked DNC emails sent to, and published by his organization.
President Obama has called for a full review of Russian electoral interference, to be concluded before Trump’s inauguration on January 20. "The president wanted this done under his watch because he takes it very seriously," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. "We are committed to ensuring the integrity of our elections."
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