FBI director James Comey has signed on to a previously reported CIA assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin directly intervened in the US presidential election in aid of Donald Trump, according to an internal CIA memo obtained by the Associated Press and Washington Post. The report has also been endorsed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, giving it the unanimous support of US intelligence agencies.
The assessment focuses on the digital theft and subsequent publication of emails from the Democratic National Committee, an act that agencies publicly attributed to Russian agents in October. President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned claims of Russian involvement in the hacks, saying in an interview last week, “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
Notably, the reports do not suggest any direct tampering in election results, and there’s no evidence that any such tampering took place. The report also doesn’t suggest any direct coordination between Putin and the Trump campaign, which the FBI investigated and ultimately dismissed earlier this year.
President Obama concurred with the reported assessment in a press conference earlier today. “We have said and I will confirm that this happened at the highest levels of the Russian government,” the president said.
Two public interest organizations, Free Speech For People and the Campaign for Accountability, have filed a complaint with the FEC requesting an immediate investigation into the whether the Russian government illegally spent money to help Trump win the presidential election.
The complaint to the FEC states:
According to the United States government, the Russian government deliberately attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election in order to assist the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. [The Federal Election Campaign Act] prohibits foreign nationals from spending money to influence federal elections.
Furthermore, according to published reports, there is sufficient basis for the FEC to initiate an investigation as to whether this activity by the Russian government met the legal definition of having “coordinated” with the Trump campaign, whether at the request of the candidate or his committee, or through shared former employees, contractors, or business associates.
It is an interesting complaint because the situation with a foreign actor interfering in a presidential election is unprecedented that all areas must be examined. Including whether the Russian government’s activities meet the legal definition of coordination. The complaint lists three reported instances of potential coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
There is a lot of smoke as far as the Trump/Russia relationship is concerned, but the smoking gun has yet to be uncovered.
The money trail must be followed. If any campaign finance laws were broken, it could connect the dots, if any exist, between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
An investigation is the only, and best way to find out if the Russians and Trump illegally coordinated and violated election laws.