Why The CIA's Russia Investigation Is A Huge Deal For The Republican Party
Intelligence officials concluded months ago that Russia had some involvement in tampering with the U.S. presidential election, a move that was widely believed to be an attempt to challenge voters' faith in the process. But new information came out on Friday that the CIA concluded with "high confidence" that Russia weren't just testing voters' faith, but actively trying to get President-elect Donald Trump into the White House. This latest information from the CIA's Russia investigation is a huge deal for the Republican party and the nominee they just sent to the Oval Office.
In the CIA's findings, which were presented to senior administration officials, one of the biggest flags was the intelligence agency's discovery that Russia had breached the Republican National Committee's computer system, but the hackers ultimately did not release any data they might have obtained. In July, news broke that Russian hackers had gained access into the Democratic National Committee's computer systems and passed data along to WikiLeaks.
For their part, the Republican National Committee has maintained for months that their computer systems weren't compromised, and that Russian hackers had only gained access to the emails of individual members rather than the whole network. That claim seems to fly in the face of the CIA's latest assessment (a senior committee official had no comment on the discovery for the New York Times).
There are still a lot of questions surrounding the breach and Russia's intention to swing the election results in favor of Trump, but this isn't looking pretty for the GOP. The Russians have a long history of kompromat, a practice of obtaining information and releasing it the hopes of discrediting a public figure (kompromat is a portmanteau combining the Russian words for "compromising" and "material"). Hillary Clinton, for example, became a victim of kompromat when DNC data was released through WikiLeaks, most notably the emails of her campaign chair, John Podesta.
So now it looks like Russia is in the Republicans' corner, even if the GOP didn't invite them into it. And even worse, Trump seems to be dismissing the CIA's intelligence altogether. "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Trump's campaign said in a statement, adding that it's time to "move on" from the election.
This could create an unprecedented rift between the president and intelligence agencies such as the CIA. As The New York Times notes, Trump has only been receiving intelligence briefings "sporadically," and now the president-elect "is questioning not only analytic conclusions, but also their underlying facts."
So it appears that the GOP — or the president who was elected as its nominee, at the very least — is uninterested in exploring any wrongdoing from Russia provided that it benefited the party.