The FBI finally agrees with a CIA assessment that Russia deliberately intervened in the US presidential election through cyber operations to help Donald Trump win the White House.
Both FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are in agreement with the CIA analysis, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
“Earlier this week, I met separately with FBI (Director) James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” CIA Director John Brennan wrote in a message to employees, according to the report.
“The three of us also agree that our organizations, along with others, need to focus on completing the thorough review of this issue that has been directed by President Obama and which is being led by the DNI,” Brennan added.
The message follows media reports last week that the FBI did not stand by the CIA on Russia’s motives for hacking the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and other political operatives.
While the CIA insisted that Moscow was trying to use the hacked emails to get Trump elected, the FBI told lawmakers the evidence was “fuzzy” and “ambiguous.”
President-elect Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s assessment as “ridiculous.”
The growing distrust between Trump and the intelligence community he will soon command marks the latest in a series of disputes over Russia’s international conduct and its alleged ties with the president-elect.
Washington first publicly accused Moscow of a campaign of cyber operations against American political organizations in October but did not attribute motives at the time.
As the November 8 election neared, Democrats pressed the White House for a stronger response.
On Friday, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s handling of the cyberattack and vowed retaliations for the moves.
“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action,” Obama told NPR. “And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing.”
At a year-end press conference the same day, Obama all but named Russian President Vladimir Putin as behind Moscow’s alleged attempts to influence the election.
“Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin,” he said. “This happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.”