“Overall I have not seen any evidence of anyone actually colluding with the Russians. [I have not seen any evidence ] of Russian intelligence colluding with a campaign to cause harm to another.”
Daniel Hoffman — Former CIA Chief of Station in Moscow
Daniel Hoffman is a three-time CIA station chief who spent a total of five years in Moscow. Hoffman believes that the infamous June 2016 meeting — attended by Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign manager Paul Manafort and Kremlin-connected Russians — points to “a discoverable influence operation rather than some effort to establish a clandestine channel for collusion.” Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
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COMMENT — The Washington Post just reported today that FBI agents raided Paul Manafort’s home — President Trump’s former campaign chairman — in the predawn hours of July 26 2017, just one day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee. End of Comment
Both in a NPR’s interview and in an op-ed for The New York Times, Hoffman argues the meeting was meant to be discovered.
“Putin deliberately left a trail of breadcrumbs from Trump Tower to the Kremlin.
The objective was simple: to soil the U.S. political process and undermine the credibility of the 2016 election.” [NPR]
Cyber attacks against the U.S. 2016 Campaign
“Russia began mounting cyber attacks against U.S. targets during the 1990’s, which expanded greatly after Vladimir Putin became president.
Russia effectively targeted State Department and White House communications, and pursuing a target which was a high priority for the Soviet KGB, mounted cyber attacks against the U.S. 2016 electoral process.
At the heart of Putin’s motivation was regime security. He sought to degrade trust in Western institutions.”
The Steele dossier?
Hoffman believes Russia may have seeded the Steele dossier.
“One possible explanation for the content was that Russian intelligence was aware that the dossier was being written.”
“And that they fed not only true information — but untrue information as well. Which is their regular modus operandi for covert influence operations.”
Not Everyone is Convinced…
Some other CIA veterans disagree.
“It is our view not only that the Russian government was running some sort of intelligence operation involving the Trump campaign, but also that it is impossible to rule out the possibility of collusion between the two.
What remains to be determined is whether the Russians also attempted to suborn members of the Trump team in an effort to gain their cooperation. This is why the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is so important.
It is why the F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation, also quietly progressing in the background, is critical. Because while a Russian disruption operation is certainly plausible, it is not inconsistent with a much darker Russian goal: gaining an insider ally at the highest levels of the United States government.
In short, and regrettably, collusion is not off the table.” [NYT — Former CIA officers John Sipher and Steve Hall]
A few words of wisdom
“I can’t say how news of the meeting broke, but once it did, Mr. Putin achieved one of his goals: throwing the American government into greater turmoil amid the frenzied media coverage, escalating F.B.I. and congressional investigations and intensified political conflict.”
About Daniel Hoffman
Daniel Hoffman is a former Chief of Station with the Central Intelligence Agency. His combined 30 years of distinguished government service included high-level positions not only within the CIA, but also with the U.S. military, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Commerce.
Assignments included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union, Europe, and war zones in both the Middle East and South Asia. During this time, Hoffman developed substantive expertise on geopolitical and transnational issues related to the Middle East, South Asia, Russia, counterterrorism, and cyber and counter-intelligence. [The Cipher brief]
Daniel Hoffman says it was Russia influence but not collusion
Former CIA Chief in Moscow: “Russia Influence But No Collusion.”