Democrats want Russian hacking intelligence declassified

Story highlights

  • The call to release the information came in a short letter to President Obama released by seven Democratic senators
  • A Trump ally dismissed the new push by the Democratic Party

Washington (CNN)Democratic senators are pressing the Obama administration to more forthrightly state, based in part on new intelligence information, that Russia's meddling in the US election was intended to help Donald Trump, multiple sources tell CNN.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation into Russia's hacking say the US intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian meddling in the US election was intended to steer the election toward Trump, rather than simply to undermine or in other ways disrupt the political process. The sources say there is some new information but would not specify due to the classified nature of the intelligence.
Despite the Democratic pressure, the sources say that they do not see the new information as significantly changing the intelligence agencies' understanding of what Russia was intending to do since the targets of the hack were known to be the democratic party.
There is no indication the intelligence community is planning to update its October 7 public statement from the Director of National Intelligence that laid out publicly the US intelligence community's view regarding Russian cyber activities.
In that statement, intelligence community blamed Russia for the hacks and said the "thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process."
However, the intelligence community has never publicly said that Russia's intention was to help Donald Trump over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
The call to release the information came in a short letter to the president released by seven Democratic senators that said "there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election" and called for the details to be declassified and released to the public. The public letter was signed by all the Democrats on the Senate intelligence community except the ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein did sign the second, classified message sent conveying more information about the request.
A Trump ally dismissed the new push by the Democratic Party.
"This is nothing more than sour grapes from partisan Democrats upset that Hillary Clinton lost."
"I don't consider this a partisan issue," said Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who signed the letter. "We can't just let it go and say that's history because they will keep doing it."
At a hearing last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did not address why the Russians interfered but did say he saw no reason Russian efforts would stop now that Donald Trump has been elected.
"I don't anticipate a significant change in Russian behavior, Clapper said in the November 17th hearing. "Russians have a very active and aggressive capability to conduct information operations, so called hybrid warfare. That's been a long standing practice of theirs going back to the Soviet era and I anticipate that it will continue."
During the election, Democrats have been frustrated that the intelligence community did not go as far as to say the meddling was intended to benefit Donald Trump, noting all of the hacking was directed at Democratic operatives -- the Democratic National Committee and top Hillary Clinton campaign official John Podesta. Emails from those intrusions were posted online.
"The Russians were not seeking alone to sow discord into our democratic process by their hacking and dumping prior to the election; they were also seeking to damage Secretary Clinton, and in so doing, assist their preferred candidate, Donald Trump," said Rep. Adam Schiff, a democrat on the House intelligence committee. "To conclude otherwise, you would have to be oblivious to the one-sided nature of their release of damaging internal emails, or consider the Russians unmindful of what they were doing."
Russia's president called the US accusations "myths" in his address to Russia's parliament on Thursday.
On Friday Republican lawmakers downplayed the letter, telling CNN there was no new information to suggest the intelligence community has changed its assessment in any way. One senior Republican who is on the intelligence committee and sits in on classified briefings for Congress said there is not information to advance the narrative regarding why Russia interfered.
Rep. Mike McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security committee said Friday he's "seen no evidence" that the intelligence assessment is changing.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday the president has the power to declassify the information "by just saying it." Pelosi, who as the top Democrat in the House is privy to some of the country's most classified information, said she had not seen the letter but agreed that more information should be put out.
"Russians hacked our committees. Everyday emails came out from the Democratic side," Pelosi noted.
"I think there should be more information known to the American people, whether that's by declassification," Pelosi said.
President-elect Trump has long been doubtful about the claims of Russian involvement.
"It could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people," Trump said at the first presidential debate.
President-elect Trump has long been doubtful about the claims of Russian involvement.
"It could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people," Trump said at the first presidential debate.