Pete King: Election hack peddlers are ‘doing the work of the Russians’

A Republican member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence argued Thursday that people who are advancing the idea that Russia hacked into U.S. computer systems in order to help Donald Trump win the election have no basis for that claim, and are now doing Russia’s work for it by creating uncertainty.

The New York Times reported in December that the U.S. Intelligence Community has decided that Russia was working to elect Trump, a report that has created calls for an investigation into Russia’s actions.

But Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., argued at Trump Tower Thursday that those reports go against everything intelligence officials have told Congress.

“There is no CIA conclusion,” King said. “The CIA has repeatedly told us that they have no idea what the intent was. They think if there is an intent, it is to disrupt the election, to create confusion, and cast a cloud over the winner.”

“And right now, certain elements of the media, certain elements of the intelligence community, and certain politicians are really doing the work of the Russians,” he added. “They’re creating this uncertainty over the election, this is several days before the Electoral College.”

King said in the briefings he’s received, intelligence officials have said they don’t know Russia’s motive for allegedly hacking into Democratic emails and releasing them. The Obama administration has said it has traced the cyberattack back to Russia, but also hasn’t said it can explain any specific reason for the attack.

“And to suddenly have it appear in the Washington Post and the New York Times the intelligence community, the CIA, has concluded this … who? Who in the CIA? Is it John Brennan?” King asked. “Is it some rogue person behind a desk somewhere?”

Republicans on the intelligence committee had called for a briefing today in which hoped to get clarification of what U.S. intelligence agencies think happened, and whether they can confirm the Times report. But officials declined to attend the briefing, a decision that Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., called “unacceptable.”

“The committee is vigorously looking into reports of cyberattacks during the election campaign, and in particular we want to clarify press reports that the CIA has a new assessment that it has not shared with us,” he said Wednesday. “The committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes.”

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