The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, (ODNI), who oversees the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment that Russia was responsible for malicious Russian cyber activity.
He rejected this as, “ridiculous” in weekend remarks, and presses his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attacks.
Obama has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to complete an investigation into the allegations before he leaves office Jan. 20, and to deliver a written assessment from the CIA, FBI, and broader intelligence community regarding Russia and the election.
“ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one of the three U.S. officials. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation does think it will stand up in court, and has declined to accept the CIA’s analysis.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on Wednesday blasted as “unacceptable” the refusal of the FBI, CIA and National Intelligence directors to brief his panel on the Russian cyber attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign, USA Today reports.
Nunes had requested that National Intelligence Director James Clapper, with participation from FBI Director James Comey and CIA Director John Brennan, brief committee members in a closed session on Thursday. That briefing has now been cancelled.
The California Republican, in a letter sent to Clapper on Monday, said he wanted clarification about why the CIA is now saying that Russian hacks of political campaign committees earlier this year appeared to be aimed at helping President-elect Donald Trump and hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton. Nunes pointed to testimony from Clapper in a public hearing in November that the Intelligence Community lacked the evidence to draw such a conclusion.
“It is unacceptable that the Intelligence Community directors would not fulfill the House Intelligence Committee’s request to be briefed tomorrow on the cyber-attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign,” Nunes said in a statement released Wednesday night. “The legislative branch is constitutionally vested with oversight responsibility of executive branch agencies, which are obligated to comply with our requests.”
However, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that “senior administration officials have regularly provided extensive, detailed classified and unclassified briefings to members and staff from both parties on Capitol Hill since this past summer and have continued to do so after Election Day.”
“Last week, the President ordered a full Intelligence Community review of foreign efforts to influence recent presidential elections — from 2008 to present,” the director’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the Intelligence Community stands ready to brief Congress — and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods. We will not offer any comment until the review is complete.”
Nunes is a member of Trump’s presidential transition team. Trump has dismissed reports that the Russians were trying to help him win the election as “ridiculous.”
Nunes said his committee “is vigorously looking into reports of cyber-attacks during the election campaign, and in particular we want to clarify press reports that the CIA has a new assessment that it has not shared with us.”
“The committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes,” Nunes said. “The committee will continue its efforts and will insist that we receive all the necessary cooperation from the relevant leaders of the Intelligence Community.”