Nielsen's remarks, which come amid her reported tensions with Trump over immigration, sparked instant condemnation. "Russian goals included undermining faith in the US democratic process and harming a candidate's electability and potential presidency".
"I do not believe that I've seen that conclusion that the specific intent was to help President Trump win", Nielsen said today. When repeatedly informed that the assessment did say that Russian Federation aimed to help Trump, Nielsen would say only, "I do believe that Russian Federation did and will continue to try and manipulate Americans' perspective on a whole variety of issues".
"I worry about a man who was once considered a serious intelligence analyst reaching that conclusion because you know all the deep dives that have been done into what the Russians did during the election have indicated, yeah they tried, but what they spent and what they did was utterly dwarfed by all the other efforts, all the other spending, all the other advertising, all the other messaging, all the other campaigning that was done on both sides of that campaign".
A declassified version of the January 2017 report, "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections", found that Russia's goals "were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency".
"Importantly, they targeted both major political parties".
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"The Secretary has previously reviewed the Intelligence Community's assessment and agrees with it - as she stated today and previously".
The committee also issued a detailed report on Russian targeting of election infrastructure during the 2016 campaign. However, we have no evidence that any ballots were changed or counted incorrectly as a result of Russian interference.
Update: DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton shared this statement: "The intelligence assessment language is nuanced for a reason". The secretary agrees with that assessment.
Some Republicans in Congress have since disputed the findings, with House Intelligence Committee Republicans alleging that the finding was based on poor analysis.
At a briefing attended by about 40 or 50 members of the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives, the heads of FBI, Homeland Security Department and the director of National Intelligence said states and cities overseeing elections need to be prepared for threats.
"Despite the short time frame they had to prepare it, the intelligence community did a very good job with the ICA", said Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Mark Warner (D-VA).
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday that President Donald Trump had distorted his words when alleging the intelligence community "spied" on his campaign.