CIA director reassures staff: Intel agencies similar in hacking assessment

Story highlights

  • Brennan was responding in part to charges that the CIA was somehow politicizing intel
  • All sides agree that there is a mix of possible motivations on behalf of the Russians

Washington (CNN)CIA Director John Brennan told his workforce in an internal message that the CIA, Director of National Intelligence and FBI are on the same page regarding Russian hacking, according to multiple intelligence officials who have viewed the message.

Multiple sources say the CIA director was responding in part to anger and frustration in the agency at charges -- many from GOP lawmakers and President-elect Donald Trump -- that the CIA was somehow politicizing intelligence and analysis regarding Russian hacking.
Brennan wrote in part:
    "Earlier this week, I met separately with (Director) FBI 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."
    "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."
    "In recent days, I have had several conversations with members of Congress, providing an update on the status of the review as well as the considerations that need to be taken into account as we proceed."
    "Many -- but unfortunately not all -- members understand and appreciate the importance and the gravity of the issue, and they are very supportive of the process that is underway."
    The memo was first reported by The Washington Post.
    All sides agree that there is a mix of possible motivations on behalf of the Russians, including disrupting the process, weakening Hillary Clinton and helping Trump. The CIA believes it has new information -- circumstantial though it may be -- that sometime in the late spring/early summer once the Russians saw they were having some success they went all-in for Trump.
    As CNN has reported, while there was a gap between intelligence agencies and the FBI about the conclusiveness of evidence on Russia's intentions in hacking the elections, any gap is largely in the nuance in the way the FBI and CIA view intelligence. There was not a major disagreement.
    The nuance lay in a stronger view by the CIA that the hacking was intended to help elect Trump, and the CIA leans more strongly in that view than the FBI does.
    The FBI has not changed its assessment. Intelligence and law enforcement officials stressed to CNN that this is where they have been all along.