- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2017

A comprehensive review of Russia’s efforts to undermine this year’s contentious U.S. presidential election has been delivered to the White House, with congressional lawmakers to receive briefings on the classified report as soon as next week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday.

The full report, which details the sources and methods in which Moscow interfered with the election process via a series of cyberattacks and hacks against the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, was handed over to President Obama on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

An unclassified, redacted version of the White House report will also be released to the public, Mr. Clapper said, sitting alongside Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcel Lettre II and Adm. Mike Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command, who testified before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee the same day.

“This was a multifaceted campaign. The hacking was only one part of it. It also included classic propaganda… [and] fake news,” Mr. Clapper said.

During the hearing, panel Chairman and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain suggested whether Russia’s actions in cyberspace constituted an act of war. That decision, Mr. Clapper said, would be ” a very heavy policy call that I don’t think the intelligence community should make.”

It is the first public appearance for the intelligence community’s top officials since the White house ordered a review of Russia’s complicity in a series of cyber hacks into the DNC and the personal email Mr. Podesta.

Prior to Thursday’s hearing, a classified internal review conducted by the CIA shortly after the election reportedly concluded that Moscow deliberately tried to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Since then, Mr. Trump and his team have launched a double-barreled assault on the intelligence community, both denying their findings and calling their credibility into question, all in a bit to discredit any notion of Russian involvement in the election outcome.

The president-elect has likened initial U.S. intelligence assessments on Russian interference to the false flag findings on Iraq’s supposed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that led the U.S. to war in the country in 2003.

Mr. Trump has also cited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s repeated denials that Russian operatives provided the hacked emails from Mr. Podesta and the DNC, which were posted on the site.

On Thursday, Mr. Clapper said the U.S. intelligence community stood ready to defend their findings in the White House report, despite whatever rhetorical barrage may come from the Trump camp.

“There is an important distinction between healthy skepticism … and discouragement” of the analytical rigor that U.S. intelligence professionals put into assessments like the White House report, Mr. Clapper said.

“The intelligence community is not perfect … [but] I do not think the intelligence community gets the credit it’s due for what it does day in, day out” to thwart national security threats in the U.S. and elsewhere, he added.

When asked by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham if Mr. Clapper and his colleagues were prepared for the pending Trump backlash over their findings on Russia, he replied: “Absolutely.”

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