VP Badly Misstates Intel Community’s Report On Russian Election Meddling

on February 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Vice President Mike Pence falsely claimed Wednesday that it was the “universal conclusion of our intelligence communities” that “none” of the efforts by foreign actors to meddle in the 2016 election “had any effect on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Pence made the remarks at an Axios event, where Mike Allen asked Pence if he agreed with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ testimony to Congress Tuesday warning that Russia will target the 2018 midterms.

“Well the first thing that we all agree on is that, irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any effect on the outcome of the 2016 election,” Pence said. “This is the accepted view. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t efforts, and we do know there were. There were efforts by Russia, and likely by other countries, to involve or influence American elections.”

There was, in fact, no conclusion made by the intelligence community, in the assessment it released in January 2017, on whether Russia’s meddling had an impact on the election.

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election,” the report said. “The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.”

The report did find that “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

Pence’s office did not respond to TPM’s request for clarification.

Last year, CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a remark similar to Pence’s at a security conference, where he claimed that the “intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.”

The CIA’s press shop later sent a statement clarifying, “The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed, and the Director did not intend to suggest that it had.”

On Tuesday, Coats told the Senate Intel Committee, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

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