The Washington Post published a story on Thursday night claiming that the CIA had intercepted communications that indicated Russian officials were happy that Donald Trump was elected president. According to the Post, the information was contained in a classified report that was delivered to President Obama.
The left has been running with the narrative that the Russians manipulated the election to elect Trump, but the Post’s own reporting casts doubt on that narrative.
U.S. officials said the captured messages, whose existence has not previously been disclosed, added to the confidence level at the CIA and other agencies that Putin’s goals went beyond seeking to undermine confidence in America’s election machinery and ultimately were aimed at tilting a fiercely contested presidential race toward a candidate seen as more in line with Moscow’s foreign policy goals.
Even so, the messages also revealed that top officials in Russia anticipated that Clinton would win and did not expect their effort to achieve its goal.
Russian officials “were as surprised as the rest of the world,” said the second U.S. official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
The Post said the Russians only released information at the end of the election that was designed to embarrass Clinton. They did not release any similar information about Trump, so some have concluded the Russians were trying to help Trump, though it was likely because he had plenty of publicly known scandals over his three-plus decades in the public eye.
One reason why Russia may have cheered a Hillary Clinton loss was her stance on Syria. Clinton was open to potentially starting a hot war with Russia in order to enforce a “no fly zone,” whereas Trump campaigned on better relations with the nuclear superpower.
According to the evidence released publicly, U.S. intelligence believes that nearly every American think tank, political campaign, and political party was targeted as part of a “phishing” campaign. They would use fake websites in order to steal passwords and download damaging documents. The RNC has confirmed that it was a target, but their cybersecurity foiled it.
One of the hackers accused by the U.S. government of being involved in the election hacking, Alisa Shevchenko, denies any involvement. Security experts have also raised doubts about the evidence released so far by U.S. intelligence. Cybersecurity expert Robert Lee calls the report “very rushed” and lacking any useful information.
The allegations of Russian hacking look more and more like a domestic political operation being run by the Obama White House and certain U.S. intelligence operatives who have decided to interject themselves into domestic politics. The disturbing questions that are being raised are less about Russian involvement in American politics, and more about how politicized America’s intelligence services and national security establishment have become.