Trump team takes swipe at US intel groups over Russian hacking

US intelligence agencies think Russia wanted to aid a Trump victory with hacks during the election, say reports. Trump's transition team fires back.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Ed is a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world who enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Edward Moyer
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Donald Trump

Trump's transition team on US intel agencies: "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."

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The debate about alleged Russian efforts to hack the US presidential election got more intense Friday.

Citing unnamed sources, two major US newspapers reported that intelligence agencies think there's little doubt Russia worked toward a victory for Republican Donald Trump. The stories prompted a blunt response from the Trump transition team.

"It is the assessment of the intelligence community," an anonymous senior US official told The Washington Post, "that Russia's goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected." The Post reported the CIA has reached that conclusion.

The New York Times followed with its own report, saying that in addition to hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Russians had stolen data from the Republicans' nationwide coordinating group -- but that they'd leaked information only on the Dems.

"We now have high confidence that they hacked the DNC and the RNC, and conspicuously released no documents" on the Republicans, an unnamed senior administration official told the Times.

Both reports went further than previous stories that had focused on a more general allegation: that a Russian hacking effort was meant to undermine confidence in the US election process.

The Trump team fired back, taking a shot at the intelligence community.

"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the president-elect's transition team said in a statement to both papers. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"

The back and forth follows outgoing President Barack Obama's Friday order to intelligence agencies for a full report on cyberattacks and foreign intervention during the election. Obama wants the report before he leaves office on January 20.

The hacking of email accounts associated with the DNC and John Podesta, a top advisor to Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, made waves during the election.

Just prior to the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks posted leaked emails that suggested the DNC had worked to undermine Bernie Sanders, Clinton's popular adversary for the Democratic nomination. And just before the general election, WikiLeaks posted leaked emails from Podesta that included transcripts of Clinton's controversial paid speeches to financial firm Goldman Sachs.

The US government had previously linked the hacking and leaks to Russia, and Obama has reportedly considered some sort of "proportional response." Russian officials have called any involvement by the country "simply impossible."

In an interview with Time magazine this week, Trump said he didn't believe Russia had interfered with the election. On Saturday, Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, told CNN that reports that the RNC was hacked by the Russians are not true.

Neither the CIA nor the White House responded to a request for comment on the Post and Times reports.