Donald Trump's Fight With The Intelligence Community, Explained

The president-elect is butting heads with the intelligence community over Russia.
Posted at 4:41 PM, Jan 10, 2017

KATE GRUMKE: Hey, everyone. I'm Kate Grumke. 

EUGENE DANIELS: And I'm Eugene Daniels. 

GRUMKE: So, this has been a really eventful week when it comes to intelligence. So we decided to sit down and just give a wrap up. So let's start with the beginning of the week with a Trump tweet. He tweeted on Jan. 3, "The 'Intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!"

GRUMKE: So I think people were kind of offended by the intelligence — the quotes around the word "intelligence" — and saw that as a dig at our intelligence community.

GRUMKE: Now, to be fair, there are other critics. It's not just Donald Trump that is worried that it's not actually Russia and we haven't found conclusive evidence. But to also be fair, all 17 of the U.S.'s intelligence agencies say that it was Russia that was behind the hacking of the DNC.

DANIELS: And they're all in agreement. What's really interesting is it's pretty unprecedented for an incoming president or president-elect to be at war. I hate that word, but that's kind of what it is — a battle with the intelligence community that he's going to be in charge of in just days, in a couple of weeks. I don't think we've ever seen this — at least, not so publicly.

GRUMKE: Then on the other hand, we know what happened with Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. So it's not necessarily that this has never happened that the intelligence community was wrong, but they are pretty positive about this hack.

GRUMKE: So on Thursday, there was the Senate hearing, which it was the Armed Services Committee.

DANIELS: The NSA, FBI and CIA and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, gave a briefing with a lot of information from this report.

DANIELS: But I think the thing that's the most explosive, if you want to use that word, is that President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign and that it was a multifaceted campaign, that it was aimed to hurt Hillary Clinton.

GRUMKE: I think that out of the committee hearing, some of the other stuff that was really interesting to me was John McCain was asking, "Is this potentially an act of war?" And I think that took it to a much higher step as far as the seriousness of this.

DANIELS: To be clear, the report also says, "We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome."

GRUMKE: And that's a really important point to make. So they're not saying that Russia hacked into any voting machines or changed vote totals or anything like that. Donald Trump won the election, fair and square. They're saying that Russia was attempting to meddle with the U.S. democracy.

DANIELS: If you're the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team, you want to make that really clear, right? Because this could be used by Trump opponents by trying to undermine his presidency. He won, fair and square. Whether the disinformation worked, that's something completely different. The way I've heard it put by some really smart people is not that they hacked the election, but that they hacked the voters, which is a really interesting way to look at it.

GRUMKE: Paul Ryan released a statement Friday, as well, saying Russia clearly tried to meddle in our political system. So I think we're going to continue to see this where Donald Trump obviously doesn't want to say that exactly happened because that would affect whatever mandate he might have through this election. But we're definitely seeing John McCain and Paul Ryan coming out really strongly against Russia.