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Russia doesn’t have a preference in 2020; Putin just thinks Trump is a terrific dealmaker

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I’m sure it’s purely a coincidence that we’re getting reports like this shortly after Trump fired the Director of National Intelligence (over this very issue) and replaced him with a right-wing sycophant, who brought in a far-right conspiracy theorist as a senior advisor.

The US intelligence community’s top election security official appears to have overstated the intelligence community’s formal assessment of Russian interference in the 2020 election, omitting important nuance during a briefing with lawmakers earlier this month, three national security officials told CNN.

The official, Shelby Pierson, told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election with the goal of helping President Donald Trump get reelected.

The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. But the US does not have evidence that Russia’s interference this cycle is aimed at reelecting Trump, the officials said.

“The intelligence doesn’t say that,” one senior national security official told CNN. “A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that. It’s more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker.”

Pierson’s characterization of Russian interference led to pointed questions from lawmakers, which officials said caused Pierson to overstep and assert that Russia has a preference for Trump to be reelected.One intelligence official said that Pierson’s characterization of the intelligence was “misleading” and a national security official said Pierson failed to provide the “nuance” needed to accurately convey the US intelligence conclusions.

It’s entirely plausible that the IC cannot assess with high confidence that current Russian electoral interference is specifically designed to reelect Trump. But this kind of ‘clarification’ from an unnamed senior official operating in the midst of a purge requires… shall we say… a bit more nuance.

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