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CIA Director John Brennan has engaged in a very dangerous and irresponsible politicization of the CIA report about Russian “interference” in the U.S. presidential election. In doing so, he has called into question the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump’s electoral victory and our democratic system.
And it appears that he did so without any evidence to support his assertions.
This week, several news outlets reported that the intelligence community briefed Congressional oversight committees about accusations that the Russian government was responsible for hacking into the email accounts of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and subsequently leaking emails to WikiLeaks through Russian agents in an effort in interfere with the U.S. presidential election.
It was also reported that the CIA assesses that the Russian government did so specifically to help Donald Trump win the election. However, the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence – a Democrat appointed by President Obama - disagree.
The nature of the disagreement is due to a lack of facts to support the CIA's assessment, which leads one to conclude that the CIA’s claim that the Russians did so to help Trump is a political statement designed to undermine the president-elect.
Any assessment of this nature would be routed through the Director of the CIA due to the obvious political sensitivities. CIA Director John Brennan, a career CIA officer and Democrat appointed by President Obama, apparently allowed an assessment to go to Capitol Hill that undermined and called into question the legitimacy of the electoral victory of a candidate of an opposing political party.
They lacked a basis in hard facts to support that assessment.
This is truly unbelievable and does more damage to the standing of our electoral process than anything the Russians or the DNC have done. No CIA Director would ever approve the release of an assessment with that kind of political impact unless the decision to do so was in itself political – which appears to be the case.
The CIA is alleged to have made the assessment that the Russian government interfered specifically to help Donald Trump win the election because Republican political operatives were also hacked and yet their emails were not released. However, this is no evidence to suggest that was, in fact, the Russians' intent.
Furthermore, virtually no one in the mainstream political establishment – pollsters, politicians, political scientists, and the press - ever seriously believed or had information that would indicate that Donald Trump was going to win the election. Most of them were subsequently proven wrong. But these are the same people about whom the Russians would have been trying to collect intelligence in order to determine the likely outcome of the U.S. election.
Accordingly, it is more probable than not that the Russians also thought that Donald Trump would not win and that Hillary Clinton would become president. As such, Russia’s actions were more likely to have been designed to weaken a future president Hillary Clinton and our democratic process than they were to help Donald Trump.
It is completely inappropriate and irresponsible for the CIA to claim that the Russians intended to help Donald Trump get elected simply because they allegedly chose not to release the emails of Republican operatives. There is just as much evidence to support the opposing theory that I just laid out.
If news reports are correct, Congress needs to call on John Brennan to justify his decisions, just as it did with FBI Director James Comey. The CIA also needs to declassify the portions of its assessment that allege that the Russians specifically intended to help Donald Trump win. For the sake of our democratic process - and to salvage the institution's reputation - this must be done.