FBI Director James Comey today threw his weight behind a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election. According to CIA Director John Brennan:
Earlier this week, I met separately with (Director) FBI James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election.
The three of us also agree that our organizations, along with others, need to focus on completing the thorough review of this issue that has been directed by President Obama and which is being led by the DNI.
The initial assessment concluded Russia sought to undermine confidence in the US electoral system. Later, it was revealed The Kremlin allegedly had another goal in mind: placing Trump in The White House. The report remains classified, although lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for portions of it to be made public.
For now though, we’re left with the knowledge Russia may have intervened while speculating on just how it happened. The DNC hack, uptick in fake news around election time, or hacks carried out on voting booths/electoral databases all seem to be the most likely options.
Again though, we’re strictly speculating at this time; it could be some combination of the above, or something else entirely.
Director Comey’s show of support is a big one for the investigation. The CIA — which Trump called “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — operates under the watchful eye of the Director of National Intelligence. Its spies are responsible for covert operations and foreign intelligence, giving the organization a fair bit of leeway to operate on assumptions and circumstantial evidence. The FBI, on the other hand, operates under the umbrella of the Department of Justice. The DOJ is responsible for domestic criminal investigations and upholding the law.
Put simply, the FBI generally acts in the public eye. The CIA doesn’t.