CIA tells US lawmakers Russia's goal was to get Donald Trump elected

The latest intelligence assessment is soul crushing", Clinton camp says.

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US accuses Russia of cyber attacks, pledges retaliatory steps
The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee is seen in Washington, U.S. June 14, 2016. REUTERS

The CIA has reached the conclusion that Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the US presidential election, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

US intelligence officials who spoke to the Post said known Russian state actors passed on thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks.

Obama orders probe into election cyber attacks, fears Russia will go unpunished under Trump

The revelation comes in the wake of President Barack Obama announcing a deep dive investigation into the cyber attacks by Russian hackers that marred the presidential election this year. Obama ordered the probe into the 'malicious cyber activities' to be completed before he leaves office. Much of the sensitive findings will remain classified, while the administration said portions of it could be published.

"It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia's goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected ... That's the consensus view," a senior US official told the Post. CIA agents told US lawmakers it was "quite clear" that electing Mr Trump was Russia's goal, the newspaper said.

The intelligence organisation said it has evidence about the Russian conspiracy and that it has identified individuals with connections to Moscow who helped in the hacking and leaking of sensitive information.

The latest intelligence assessment was "soul crushing", Clinton's communications director said. "Soul crushing are the only words I have. Can barely stand to read the story," Jennifer Palmieri tweeted.

The cyber hacks had destabilized the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and candidate Hillary Clinton. Democrats believe the data dump by the hackers seriously affected Clinton's chances of winning the presidency as she lost by a whisker in Democrat-leaning swing states, which eventually handed White House to Trump.

In early October, the US government officially accused Russia of orchestrating cyber attacks on the country. A government statement said only the senior-most Russian officials could have authorized the cyber warfare aimed at interfering in the November 8 elections.

"We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities," the statement said.

A hacker who named himself Guccifer 2.0 had owned up the responsibility in July for the release of documents that revealed the inner workings of the Democratic Party. The US Department of Homeland Security said the method of the attack was consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.

The hacked documents had revealed that Democratic Party officials were biased against Clinton's rival Bernie Sanders in the race for the party nomination.

Trump's transition team dismissed the latest revelation. "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction ... The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again,' Trumps camp said in apparent rebuke to the intelligence agency.

This article was first published on December 10, 2016