The latest on Russian hacking of our election:

Cybersecurity Takes Center Stage on The Hill

WASHINGTON — Rebuffing efforts by President-elect Donald J. Trump to cast doubt on Russian interference in the presidential election, top intelligence officials and senators from both parties on Thursday issued a forceful affirmation of the findings. They took relentless aim at Mr. Trump’s public skepticism and suggested he had negatively affected morale in the intelligence community.

“There’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said at the hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Clapper added that “our assessment now is even more resolute” that the Russians carried out the attack on the election. President Obama received a classified briefing on the intelligence community’s findings today, followed by one for Mr. Trump on Friday. An unclassified report will be released to the public next week.
The hacking was only one part of the Russian endeavor, which also included the dissemination of “classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news,” Mr. Clapper said.
The gathering was extraordinary as much for its context as its content — a public, bipartisan display of support for the intelligence community that seemed aimed, at times, at an audience of one.
Though Mr. Clapper and most Republican senators were careful to avoid antagonizing the president-elect directly, the hearing spoke to the searing rift Mr. Trump has threatened to create between the incoming administration and the intelligence officials tasked with informing it.
Intelligence Officials Testify About U.S. Cyber Security

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the committee, said the purpose of the gathering was “not to question the outcome of the presidential election” but to move forward with a full understanding of what had happened.

Repeatedly, though, Mr. McCain and his colleagues seemed to undercut Mr. Trump’s past messages of support for Russia and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, whom Mr. Trump has appeared to defend.

“Do you think there’s any credibility we should attach to this individual?” Mr. McCain asked.
“Not in my view,” Mr. Clapper said. Another witness at the hearing, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, a leader of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command, said he agreed.

Later, as if concerned the point had not been duly made, Mr. McCain asked Mr. Clapper again to describe his view of Mr. Assange.
Mr. Clapper noted that Mr. Assange had been “holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London” to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant on allegations of sexual assault. WikiLeaks’ revelations, Mr. Clapper said, had sometimes put Americans at risk. “So I don’t think those of us in the intelligence community have a whole lot of respect for him.”

In Twitter messages on Thursday before the hearing — one day after sharing with his followers remarks from Mr. Assange, who has dismissed the intelligence findings — Mr. Trump accused the “dishonest media” of concluding that the two men agreed.


“I simply state what he states,” Mr. Trump wrote, “it is for the people to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”

Mr. Clapper, while withholding revelations about the Russian attack ahead of next week’s release, did promise to “push the envelope” in declassifying as much detail as possible, including the motive of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in carrying it out. “We’ll be as forthcoming as we can, but there are some fragile and sensitive sources and methods here,” he said.
He said he welcomed skeptical questioning from Mr. Trump, allowing that the intelligence community was “not perfect.” But Mr. Clapper spoke sternly of the wall of stars in the C.I.A. lobby, commemorating the deaths of agency officers on duty, and said the agencies’ efforts to keep the country safe were not always appreciated.
Democrats on the committee repeatedly coaxed intelligence leaders to underscore the contrast between their view that the Russian government was behind the hacking and Mr. Trump’s multiple assertions that a random individual hacker might be to blame.
Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrat of Indiana, told Mr. Clapper that in the conflict between the intelligence agencies and Mr. Assange over Russian responsibility for the attack, “We’re on your side every time.” He asked Mr. Clapper to convey his level of confidence in attributing the election attack to Russia, rather than “someone in his basement.”
“It’s, uh, very high,” the laconic intelligence director replied.
At one point, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, wondered aloud “who benefits from a president-elect trashing the intelligence community….”

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, used the occasion for an aside about Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, who has a history of sharing discredited news stories and conspiracy theories. Mr. Kaine said he was unsure whether Mr. Flynn was acting out of “gullibility” or “malice,” but said it was a cause for “great concern” that Mr. Flynn shared stories that “most fourth-graders would find incredible.”