Two important stories coming from the New York Times and Washington Post tonight.
1. Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House - reported by Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller for the Washington Post. Here are a few of the money quotes:
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
Team Trump has already dismissed any charges that Russia may have interfered on his behalf:
“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.
It's unnerving to think that our President-elect is already writing off intelligence that he does not like. He has already shown to be reticent about reading security briefings, and now this gem of a quote only deepens worries about what kind of relationship our future President will have with the country's intelligence communities.
When President Obama tried to gain bilateral support for releasing information concerning Russian's attempts to sway the election he was met by opposition from the right, including Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell:
According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
It should be noted that President-elect Trump has tapped McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, for the position of transportation secretary.
I understand how President Obama would want to try to get bipartisan support before releasing this kind of information before an election, but at some point you have to throw out the optics and do what is best for this country's well-being. Yes, most people knew that Russia was involved with this election, but releasing this information would have given a clearer picture into the matter, not too mention given much more veracity to the stories that the media was getting out to the public.
2. Russia Hacked Republican Committee but Kept Data, U.S. Concludes - by David E. Sanger and Scott Shane for the New York Times.
This coming off of the heels of the Post article, shows that our intelligence agencies has strong evidence that Russia had targeted and compromised information from the RNC:
They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.
The stories paint a picture of a very real cyber war taking place between the United States and Russia. It's now clear that Russia played at least a limited role in deciding this election, and it would seem that partisan politics has left us incredibly vulnerable to countries that wish to undermine the core tenants of our democracy.
This is great work by the New York Times and the Washington Post.