Last week, reports confirmed the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) belief Russia intervened with the U.S. election in order to help elect Donald Trump. On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) backed that assessment, according to a report from the Washington Post.
A message sent by CIA Director John Brennan to his agency appears to confirm the FBI and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) are on the same page as the CIA in the assessment of Russia’s activity during the 2016 Presidential election.
“Earlier this week, I met separately with (Director) FBI James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” the message reportedly said.
Brennan also noted the agencies, along with several other intelligence organizations, need to work to complete a thorough review of Russia’s involvement as has been ordered by President Barack Obama.
The new report runs contrary to what was believed to be a fissure between the intelligence agencies. Following reports the CIA believed Russia intervened specifically to help Trump get elected, others indicated the FBI had not reached the same conclusion based off a briefing a member of the bureau gave to House intelligence committee members.
An official told the Washington Post the positions of the two agencies “were never all that different in the first place.”
Now it appears the organizations are on the same page, believing Russia did not have a “single purpose” for its actions but was interested in influencing the results of the election with hopes of benefiting the Trump campaign.
The report indicates the agencies also believe Russia aimed to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.
President Obama vowed to “take action” against Russia for its intervention into the U.S. election, stating in an interview with NPR the retribution will happen “at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.”
In his end-of-year press conference, President Obama spoke about Russian hacking, stating, “based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC and that as a consequence, it is important for us to review all elements of that and make sure that we are preventing that kind of interference through cyber attacks in the future.”
Obama argued preventing further intervention from foreign influencers and other bad actors should be a bipartisan issue, not a partisan one. The President believed his administration allowed its intelligence agencies to come to their conclusion without political influence and reiterated his intention to respond to Russia’s activities.
Hillary Clinton, speaking to donors in New York City Thursday, partly blamed Russia for her loss to Trump. She said Russian President Vladimir Putin held a personal grudge against her following comments she made after he won election in 2011, according to report by the New York Times.
“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” Clinton said, according to the Times. “ … The public deserves to know exactly what happened, and why, in order for us to prevent future attacks on our systems, including our electoral system.”