Here was my full exchange with Secretary Nielsen from this AM on whether she has any reason to doubt the Intelligence Community's 2017 assessment, which concluded that Putin and Russia tried to help Trump win the presidency. https://t.co/26N3NetvhH— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 22, 2018
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she is not “aware” of the United States Intelligence community’s report Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election with the intent of favoring then-candidate Donald Trump despite the findings being made public more than a year ago.
What is ironic is that these comments were made as Nielsen was in Capitol Hill to brief officials over election security as midterm elections in November approach and top intelligence officials are worried Russia might interfere again. She was accompanied by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.
“I don’t believe that I have seen that conclusion,” she told CNN’s Manu Raju when asked whether she agreed with the 2017 findings of the U.S. Intelligence community report. “That the specific intent was to help President Trump win ? I’m not aware of that, but I do generally have no reason to doubt any intelligence assessment.”
Nielsen then insisted the Russia tried to affect public opinion on both sides.
“We’ve seen them encourage people to go to a protest on one side. We’ve seen them simultaneously encourage to people to go the same protest on the other side. I think what they are trying to do is to disrupt our belief and our own understanding of what’s happening,” she said. “It’s an integrity issue of who is saying what and why and how that may or may not affect American behavior.”
Although, the 2017 report does not reflect this statement.
“We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report stated.
The findings also stated the CIA, the FBI and the NSA, all agree with the report that Russia interfered in the elections with the goal of making Trump the next president.
“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment,” it continued.
On May 16, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a statement after the review of the U.S. intelligence community’s findings and said they found no evidence to dispute it.
“Despite the short time frame they had to prepare it, the intelligence community did a very good job with the ICA,” said Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). “After a thorough review, our staff concluded that the ICA conclusions were accurate and on point. The Russian effort was extensive, sophisticated, and ordered by President Putin himself for the purpose of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton. In order to protect our democracy from future threats, we must understand what happened in 2016."
Following Nielsen’s apparent “unawareness” of the report’s findings, the DHS issued a statement in an attempt to clarify her stance on the topic. However, the DHS' clarification completely contradicted Nielsen’s initial statement.
DHS is now claiming that @mkraju's question "did not reflect the specific language in the [IC] assessment," but that's false. The report said Russia tried to help Trump win, which is what Manu said.— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) May 22, 2018
DHS's statement is directly at odds with Nielsen's comments. pic.twitter.com/JsjzMTmvQz
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Erin Schaff