The FBI did not corroborate the CIA’s claim that Russia had a hand in the election of President-elect Donald Trump in a meeting with lawmakers last week.
A senior FBI counterintelligence official met with Republican and Democrat members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in order to give the bureau’s view of a recent CIA report. The official did not concur with the CIA, frustrating Democrats.
The CIA believes Russia “quite” clearly intended to send Trump to the White House. The claim is a bold one, and concerned Democrats and some Republicans who are worried about Trump’s desire to mend relations with an increasingly aggressive Russia. The CIA report was “direct, bald and unqualified,” one of the officials at the meeting told The Washington Post Saturday.
The FBI official was much less convinced of the claims, providing “fuzzy” and “ambiguous” remarks.
The different conclusions reached by the two intelligence agencies is a reflection of their different institutional styles. CIA officials often use past behavior and analysis based on gathered intelligence to advise leaders, whereas the FBI comes from a more legalistic background which relies on hard evidence to make a case.
The White House announced Friday that President Barack Obama ordered a full-scope investigation into the allegations against the Kremlin. Obama wants the investigation to be completed before he leaves office in late January, and intends to declassify as much of it as possible. Legislators want to accompany the report with a congressional investigation.
“Only in this way can the American people know the extent of Russian interference and we can attempt to inoculate ourselves against continued meddling in our elections,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, told the Washington Post.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, sided with FBI’s assessment.
“There is no clear evidence — even now,” he told the Post. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”