The director of the CIA was immediately corrected by his own agency Thursday after he claimed Russian meddling in the 2016 election had not changed the result.
Mike Pompeo told the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, the “intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.”
The CIA swiftly issued a clarification statement, noting the agency’s assessment of Russian election meddling “has not changed, and the director did not intend to suggest that it had.”
In January the CIA and NSA issued a joint report stating the Kremlin hacked emails and disseminated propaganda in order “to help [Trump’s] election chances.”
The report stopped short of assessing the impact, noting that such a conclusion was beyond the scope of the inquiry.
Donald Trump, who has decried accusations of Russia interference as part of a political witch-hunt, claimed in May, “The Russians did not affect the vote.”
Pompeo’s comments drew sharp criticism from lawmakers and former officials.
“I warned in January that Director Pompeo’s views on Russia shifted with those of the president,” Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee tweeted. “Today is more evidence of that sad fact.”
Another Democratic senator, Martin Heinrich, said that either Pompeo was just “parroting” Trump or he’s making a major split with the rest of the intelligence community.
“Not true,” said David Cohen, a former deputy director at the agency. “The Intelligence Community Assessment specifically said the IC made no judgment on whether Russian interference affected election.”