Recent reports released by the C.I.A. indicate that Russia intended to assist Donald Trump in winning the position as President of the United States. These reports came to light months after President Trump had already claimed victory over Hillary Clinton.
Further delving into the reports shows that Russia had indicated their intentions to help President Trump during his campaign much earlier than previously thought. The briefings also show a split between the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. including a major divide between senior officials, some of whom believed that Russia was actively targeting cyber attacks intended to disrupt America’s political system as opposed to aiding in his election.
Former C.I.A. Director John Brennan was quoted 10 weeks before the election expressing his concern regarding the increased evidence of Russian participation. He followed up with eight individual briefings for Congress as well as private secure phone conversations.
Exactly what evidence Brennan referred to is still unclear, but internal and public concern did increase at the revelation of Russian meddling with the Democratic National Committee. As the final weeks of the election counted down, Congress and other intelligence agencies were already scrambling to understand the scope of Russian involvement.
Harry Reid, at the time the top Democrat in the Senate, was briefed by C.I.A. Director Brennan regarding the most recent Russian hacking which was believed to be purposed with helping Trump win the election. The F.B.I. is now investigating claims of further connections, as well as financial relationships, between Russia and several of Trump’s associates. No proof of collusion has yet been revealed.
President Trump has denounced any claims of Russian connections to be ridiculous and fake news. The White House has attempted to divert attentions toward alleged wiretapping of phones in Trump Tower during the Presidential Campaign. Both the C.I.A. and F.B.I. declined to comment on these allegations.
Director Brennan stated that the C.I.A. was limited in its legal ability to investigate further into the Russia and Trump relationship as the agency is focused on foreign intelligence. He added that the F.B.I., which is focused on domestic issues, would need to take the lead on this investigation.
Director of the F.B.I. James Comey was contacted by Mr. Reid and informed of the possibility that Russia’s connection to the election may be more extensive than was originally thought. Reid urged the F.B.I. to use every available resource to determine if there is a direct connection to Trump.
The F.B.I. had, unknowingly to Mr. Reid, already opened a case searching for links between Trump and Russia a month earlier. This investigation was kept secret from Congress. Later that fall, the F.B.I. reported that their analysts had been unable to find any conclusive evidence linking Trump and the Russian government.
As the election neared, new information and hacked DNC emails began to influence the previous F.B.I. report. Officials began to believe alleged Russian intentions to aid Trump, as the C.I.A. had indicated earlier.
Only after the election, did it become publicly known that the C.I.A. had concluded that it was indeed Russia’s intent to have Trump elected. By this time, it was already too late as hacked DNC emails already added confidence to the assumption that Moscow was helping Trump.
Early evidence, from the summer, seemed to show that Russian hackers were targeting both Democratic and Republican targets. Later, no Republican information was released, while numerous Democratic sources were compromised damaging Clinton’s campaign. After her loss, Clinton’s campaign refocused their efforts on the failure of government officials to properly reveal Russian motivations during Trump’s election.