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Comey stands by U.S. intelligence assessment that Putin wanted Trump to win election

Two of the nation's top counter-intelligence officials stood by the U.S. intelligence assessment in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin's government sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

Under questioning from Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, said nothing has changed since they issued their Jan. 6 report on Russian interference in the election. 

The report found that senior Russian officials, including Putin, wanted to undermine the U.S. democratic process, hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump's campaign. 

Comey and Rogers declined to provide details on how the intelligence community reached that assessment.

"They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her and help him," Comey said, adding that officials had reached that conclusion by December. 

In part, the FBI and intelligence agencies came to believe that Putin wanted Trump to win because he very much disliked Clinton, Comey said.

"Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was that he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much," Comey said.

Conaway interjected with an anecdote about his wife cheering for the Texas Tech Red Raiders on the football gridiron and wondering whether such an analysis may be too simplistic.

"That might work on Saturday afternoon when my wife's Red Raiders are playing the Texas Longhorns," he said. "She really likes the Red Raiders ... The logic is because he didn't like candidate Clinton that he automatically liked Trump. That assessment is based on what?" 

"Well, it's based on more than that," Comey said. "But part of it is the logic. Whoever the Red Raiders are playing you want the Red Raiders to win; by definition you want their opponent to lose."

"I know, but [Putin] wanted her to lose and him to win?," Conaway asked.

"They are inseparable," Comey replied. "It's a two-person event."

"When did you decide [Putin] wanted him to win?"

"Logically, when he wanted her to lose," Comey said to laughter.

Republicans noted there had been no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian authorities.

But otherwise most lawmakers did not attempt to defend Trump directly, though they sought to limit the damages of Coney's disclosures to Republicans.

"Don't you think it's ridiculous to say the Russians prefer Republicans over Democrats?"  Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), the committee chairman, asked Comey and Rogers.

Neither replied.

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