The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a report detailing the intelligence community's assessment that Russia tried to sway the presidential election for Donald Trump, including via fake news and social media.
The report, essentially a declassified version of a highly classified report, was released the same day President-elect Trump met with the heads of the FBI, CIA and other intelligence-gatherers.
Among the ODNI's key judgments were that: "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election"; that "Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency," and that "Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."
The CIA and FBI both have high confidence in those judgments, the NSA has moderate confidence.
The finding was also that when, like many in the U.S., the Russians thought Clinton was going to win, they shifted to undermining her potential presidency.
ODNI said that information since the election increases the confidence in the assessments of Russian motivations and goals.
It said Russia "relayed material" to WikiLeaks, whose exiled founder, Julian Assange, has said Russia was not its source.
ODNI said Russia's intervention efforts did not involve voting machines.
Following his meeting with intelligence officials, Trump appeared to back off his criticisms of them, but not of his assertion that, attempts notwithstanding, Russia had no impact on the outcome.
“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines," he said. "There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful."
“Today’s report is well in line with previous assessments from the intelligence community that Russian officials at the highest levels engaged in an unprecedented level of interference in our elections, and these actions had the goal of harming the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and boosting the candidacy of President-elect Donald Trump," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "This report demonstrates the important role of our nation’s intelligence community and the men and women who work quietly every day to keep our country safe. The strength of America’s democracy will be measured, in part, on how we respond, and the steps we take to develop a robust and proactive cyber strategy, including tools and capabilities to deter and effectively respond to future attempts by foreign actors to influence America’s democratic process.”
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.