Obama administration too slow to probe Russian meddling in 2016

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But the intelligence community's findings stated directly that the Russians sought to help Trump's candidacy, and the question the reporter had asked Nielsen was: "Do you (have) any reason to doubt the Jan 2017 intelligence community assessment that said it was Vladimir Putin who meddled in the election to help President Trump win?"

Nielsen's remarks, which come amid her reported tensions with Trump over immigration, sparked instant condemnation.

"I don't believe that I have seen that conclusion".

Clapper does not go so far as to state that Trump colluded with Russia, but he describes the president's attitude in face of evidence of Russian interference as one of "aggressive indifference".

Nielsen's comments stand at odds with the U.S. intelligence community, which concluded in 2017 that Russian Federation tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Trump.

The U.S. intelligence community said in a January 2017 assessment that Russian Federation had tried to influence the election to benefit Trump. "I think what they are trying to do is to disrupt our belief and our own understanding of what's happening", she said.

Nielsen spoke to reporters after holding a closed-door congressional briefing today on election security.

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Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said after the briefing that members were concerned that "not only Russian Federation but possibly other foreign adversaries are now going to start looking at how they can meddle in the midterm elections and we need to be prepared".

"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. It's an integrity issue of who is saying what and why and how that may or may not affect an American's behavior in what they're voting for". "All three agencies agree with this judgment", it continued. As Clapper notes, Trump has remained "aggressively indifferent" to the news, and then fact, of Russia's interference.

"The intelligence assessment language is nuanced for a reason", Houlton wrote. "Importantly, they targeted both major political parties".

A similar conflict exists in Congress, where the Senate and the House Intelligence Committees have reached very different conclusions about Russia's intentions.

But the Senate intelligence committee said last week that it agrees with the intelligence agencies' assessment.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday that President Donald Trump had distorted his words when alleging the intelligence community "spied" on his campaign.