Ex-CIA officer: US intel should reevaluate conclusion Russia tried to help Trump win election

Former Moscow station chief says US intel got key conclusion wrong about Russia's election intentions.

Published: April 21, 2020 5:02pm

Updated: April 21, 2020 11:02pm

The CIA's former Moscow station chief declared Tuesday that the U.S. intelligence community incorrectly concluded that Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election and should reevaluate that determination.

"There were Russian bots, Russian ads on Facebook and other things that were designed to drive us into extremes on both ends of the spectrum," said Daniel Hoffman, one of the Agency's lead experts on Russia spy tradecraft.

And while some Russian activity benefitted the Trump campaign, Hoffman explained that it was "discoverable," meaning that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted people to know about it.

Hoffman said that he does not think that Russia's actions had any bearing on the result of the election. 

He suggested a "zero-based analysis" and engaging Russian experts for their evaluations. 

But he said that the information ultimately should be made available for public consumption because allowing the public to be informed is "how we best defend ourselves."

"Lots of people ask the question, 'Was Russia trying to interfere on behalf of one candidate or the other?' " That's a superfluous question. They weren't," Hoffman said. "And our own report from the director of National Intelligence in January 2017 shows that we could never determine the impact, if any, that Russia made. But Vladimir Putin just wants to influence the dialogue. He wants Democrats and Republicans at each other's throats, and that's what he got." 


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