The CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the election last month to help U.S. President-elect Donald Trump win the White House, The Washington Post has reported.
The newspaper report comes after President Barack Obama ordered an in-depth investigation into cyberattacks that took place during the election, with the results to be put on his desk before Trump takes office on January 20.
Citing anonymous U.S. officials, the Post said the Central Intelligence Agency concluded electing Trump was Russia's goal after identifying individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided thousands of hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and others to WikiLeaks.
The individuals were known to be part of a wider Russian operation aimed at boosting Trump and reducing Clinton's chances of winning the election.
"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," the Post quoted a senior U.S. official as saying. "That's the consensus view."
U.S. intelligence agencies formally accused Russia of cyberattacks against the Democratic Party in October, before the November 8 election, but said at the time that they believed Russia's hacking was aimed at undermining confidence in the U.S. electoral system, not boosting Trump's candidacy.
But the CIA since then has briefed Congress on its conclusions and senators said it is now "quite clear" that electing Trump was Russia's goal, the Post reported.
Obama has said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin there would be consequences for the attacks. But Putin has denied all accusations of interference in the U.S. election.
Trump has said he is not convinced Russia was behind the cyberattacks. His transition team issued a statement on "claims of foreign interference in U.S. elections" on December 9 that sought to undermine the credibility of U.S.. intelligence officials.
"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," it said. "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'."
The hacked e-mails passed to WikiLeaks were a regular source of embarrassment to the Clinton campaign during the race for the presidency.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied the Russian government was the source of the e-mails.
The Post said intelligence agencies did not have specific information showing the Kremlin directed individuals to pass the hacked e-mails to WikiLeaks. Rather, it said the actors were "one step" removed from the Russian government and were not government employees.
What the CIA told senators in its briefing fell short of a formal U.S. assessment by all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, the Post said, and some minor disagreements remain among intelligence officials.
With reporting by The Washington Post, Reuters, and AFP