WASHINGTON – CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Russian interference in last year's election did not affect the outcome, but that's not correct.
At a national security forum sponsored by a Washington think tank, Pompeo said, "The intelligence community's assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election."
But the assessment, released in January, said the intelligence agencies "did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election."
The CIA said Pompeo was not trying to distort the formal assessment.
"The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed, and the director did not intend to suggest that it had," said CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani.
Pompeo went on to say the U.S. electoral process remains susceptible to future interference by not only Russia, but other nations as well.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, was quick to criticize Pompeo's remark. He emphasized that the intelligence community made no such finding, nor could it.
He quoted from the January assessment, which said, "The U.S. intelligence community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion."
Schiff said it was not the first time Pompeo has made statements that he said minimized the significance of what Russia did. "It needs to be the last," Schiff said.
"The fact that the machines which tabulated the votes were unaltered does not mean that the influence campaign did not have its intended effect, and the head of our intelligence agencies must not ... suggest otherwise," Schiff said. "That is a presidential talking point, not an agency conclusion."