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CIA director: FBI and CIA find 'strong consensus' that Russian hacks were intended to help Trump win election

 (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

There is "strong consensus" among U.S. intelligence services that Russia orchestrated hacks and online leaks in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, the head of the CIA told agency employees in a message Friday.

FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. agree with a CIA assessment that top Russian officials oversaw a covert plan to expose internal communications from Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee and influence the outcome of the U.S. elections, CIA Director John Brennan wrote in a message, according to a U.S. official.

“Earlier this week, I met separately with FBI [Director] James Comey and DNI [Director] Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” Brennan wrote. The message was first reported by the Washington Post.

In recent days, lawmakers had said that there was disagreement between the FBI and CIA over Russia's intentions in hacking into the email accounts and computer systems of top Democratic Party officials. Friday's message appeared designed to put to rest concerns inside the CIA that other intelligence agencies didn't support the agency's conclusions.

President Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct a review of Russia's actions during the 2016 elections before Obama leaves office in Jan. 20. President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly denied Russia was behind the leaked emails and mocked the CIA's assessment that top Russian officials intervened to help him get elected.

“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,” Brennan wrote.

In addition to hurting Clinton's campaign and boosting Trump's chances, U.S. intelligence officials also believe Russia acted with a broader goal of discrediting the U.S. political process and undermining U.S. efforts to promote democratic governments elsewhere in the world.

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