FBI Agrees Russia Helped Donald Trump

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the FBI has backed the CIA assessment and agreed with its conclusion that Russia interfered to help Donald Trump win the presidential election. CIA Director John O. Brennan said in a message to agency employees that he met with FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and there was "strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election.” While the Obama administration accused Russia of interfering with the presidential election in October, it was only this month that the CIA concluded Russia had tampered with the purpose of helping Trump win.

The FBI had yet to agree with the CIA's finding that the Russian hacking had the goal of aiding the now-president-elect. Based on the Washington Post report, though, it appears that there is now agreement between the FBI and the CIA on the Russian hackers' aim to help Trump win. Neither the FBI nor the CIA commented on the report to the Washington Post.

The report also noted that while helping Trump was allegedly a goal for Russian hackers, there was no "single purpose," according to the FBI and CIA. "In addition to helping Trump, intelligence officials have told lawmakers that Moscow’s other goal included undermining confidence in the U.S. electoral system," the Washington Post stated.

The schism between the FBI's and the CIA's assessment had raised questions. However, NPR's Carrie Johnson noted in a report why the two agencies could potentially have different takes, including the fact that "FBI agents are trained to develop evidence in cases that will be presented to grand juries and courts, where the burden of proof is higher than a typical intelligence assessment." Johnson also provided another explanation, writing that the "CIA or another intelligence agency has obtained information tying Russian actors to the hacking and the motivations for it through sensitive sources and methods the agency does not want to share widely."

During his presidential campaign, Trump publicly encouraged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails and has repeatedly rejected the reports that Russia was involved in interfering with the presidential election. Earlier this week, the preside-elect tweeted "If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?" In fact, the White House publicly accused Russia of interfering in October.