Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper told Congress on Thursday that Moscow interfered in the US Presidential elections and will speak explicitly on Moscow’s motivation next week.
There may be “multiple motivations,” Clapper said; but, before anyone else is informed, the President-elect will hear it first.
Briefing the President first
The US intelligence community will brief Donald Trump on Friday. Next week, a declassified version of that report will be released to the public.
Although President-elect Trump has questioned the credibility of the US intelligence community, evoking the testimony of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, security officials issued a joint statement on Thursday, reiterating that Russia is a cyber security threat.
The signatories of the statement are National Intelligence Director James Clapper, National Security Agency director Admiral Mike Rogers and Defense Undersecretary Marcel Lettre.
What the intelligence community says
The statement was followed by testimony to a Congress Committee on Thursday. There, US intelligence leaders reiterated that Russia is targeting government organizations, infrastructure, corporations, and interfered in the political process.
Reports speak of a hacking operation, directed by the Kremlin, targeting the intranet of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the emails of the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta.
The link with Russia was first made by a private company hired by the DNC in a Washington Post report. The company referred to two hacking crews – Cozy Bear and Cozy Bear – linked with Russia’s two leading security services.
The subsequent revelations undermined the credibility of Hillary Clinton and boosted the prospects of Donald Trump.
On Thursday, Mr. Clapper talked about a “multifaceted campaign,” which included “classical propaganda, disinformation, [and] fake news,” NBC reports. However, there was no reference to the substance of the case.
Question of impact
Asked by Senator McCain whether this sort of activity should be regarded an “act of war,” Mr. Clapper said that it is impossible to assess the impact of Russia’s interference and, therefore, “that is a very heavy policy call” the intelligence community can’t make.
Meanwhile, President-elect Trump tweeted on Thursday that he is in fact “a fan” of the intelligence community. “The dishonest media likes saying that I am in agreement with Julian Assange – wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan,” Trump tweeted.