Obama administration too slow to probe Russian meddling in 2016 - Senate sources

Nielsen responded as though she had never heard of the assessment before. "But the question asked by the reporter did not reflect the specific language in the assessment itself, so the Secretary correctly stated she had not seen the conclusion as characterized by the reporter".

"To make a statement that she's unaware of the specific evidence the Russians sought to help one of the candidate in the last presidential election shows a shocking either disregard of the facts or lack of preparedness", said House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam B. Schiff (Calif.).

Later, Raju followed up, asking Nielsen if she has "any disagreement" with the assessment's conclusion "that Putin orchestrated this cyber campaign with the intention of helping Donald Trump".

She said she believed the Russians have attempted to manipulate public confidence on both sides. "I do generally have no reason to doubt any intelligence assessment".

Additionally, the steady drumbeat of news about Trump associates, near and far, entertaining Russian operatives before, during, and after the USA election have also made the prospect of the United States cozying up to Russia less likely. "I think what they are trying to do is to disrupt our belief and our own understanding of what's happening".

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Nielsen spoke to reporters after holding a closed-door congressional briefing today on election security.

In the 2017 assessment, the FBI, CIA and NSA all agreed that Russian Federation interfered with a preference for Trump. "All three agencies agree with this judgment", the report's conclusion found.

On Tuesday, he criticized the president for demanding the Justice Department investigate allegations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation placed a mole in the Trump campaign. She also very clearly articulated today that the Russian government unequivocally worked to undermine our democracy during the 2016 election. "It's an integrity issue of who is saying what and why and how that may or may not affect an American's behavior in what they're voting for".

Robert Mueller, then Federal Bureau of Investigation director, and James Clapper, then director of national intelligence (from left), testify during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Capitol Hill on March 12, 2013.

Law enforcement and intelligence officials say the administration's stance was consistent with customary law enforcement and intelligence agency practice to avoid influencing voters in the run-up to an election. And all major intelligence community leaders - including those appointed by Trump - have endorsed the finding.

  • Delia Davidson