U.S. Intercepts Capture Senior Russian Officials Celebrating Trump Win
Given the president-elect’s skepticism about the intelligence community — particularly its conclusions about Russia — the Trump Tower briefing has taken on the tenor of a showdown between the president-elect and the intelligence agencies he has disparaged.
“The Russians felt pretty good about what happened on Nov. 8 and they also felt pretty good about what they did,” a senior U.S. official said.
U.S. officials declined to say whether the intercepted communications were cited in the classified version of the report commissioned by Obama, and they emphasized that although the messages were seen as strong indicators of Moscow’s intent and clear preference for Trump, they were not regarded as conclusive evidence of Russian intelligence agencies’ efforts to achieve that outcome.
“There are a variety of different exhibits that make the case, different factors that have provided the intelligence community with high confidence” that Russia sought in part to help elect Trump, said a second senior U.S. official who has reviewed intelligence findings on Russia’s cyber operations.
Officials emphasized that “signals intelligence,” as such communication is known, is treated by analysts with caution because statements can be taken out of context and sophisticated adversaries including the Kremlin are adept at spreading disinformation.
U.S. officials who have reviewed the new report said it goes far beyond the brief public statement that Clapper and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued in October, accusing Russia of having “directed” cyber operations to disrupt the U.S. election, and concluding, in a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
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