On the eve of giving President-Elect Donald Trump a report on Russian involvement in the 2016 elections, the nation’s top intelligence official vowed to publicly release as much information as possible on Russia’s actions, telling a Senate hearing that Moscow did much more than just hack emails from the Democratic National Committee and a top aide to Hillary Clinton.
“The hacking was only one part of it,” said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of the Russian actions. “It also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”
“This was actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted,” Clapper told Senators.
Asked if the Russians were still engaged in their campaign, Clapper had a simple answer.
“Yes,” he said flatly.
“I think the public should know as much about this as possible,” Clapper added, saying more details of the CIA, FBI and NSA investigation will be made public next week.
In their testimony, Clapper and other officials stood by their initial public accusation against Russia, which was initially released before election day.
“As I indicated in my statement, we stand actually more resolutely on the strength of that statement that we made on the 7th of October,” Clapped added.
That was echoed by other top officials at the hearing.
“Russian cyber groups have a history of aggressively hacking into other country’s government infrastructure, and even election systems,” said Admiral Michael Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency.
Clapper though specifically said there was no evidence that Russia hacking altered any vote totals, and he refused to say that Russia tipped the scales of that election for President.
There was also discussion at several points during the hearing about public criticism of the Intelligence Community by President-Elect Trump, and the impact on morale inside the community.
“I hardly think it helps it,” said Clapper.
“I don’t want to lose good, talented people because they don’t think their work is valued,” added NSA chief Rogers.
Senators and intelligence officials also took the opportunity to publicly jab at Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks.
“I don’t think those of us in the Intelligence Community have a whole lot of respect for him,” Clapper said.
Asked about a Friday briefing for the President-Elect on what Russia was doing, DNI Clapper was asked if he was ready to be challenged by Mr. Trump, who has been publicly critical of the Intelligence Community.
“I am,” Clapper said.
“Do you welcome it?” asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“I do,” Clapper added.