Last week, the media worked itself into one of their seemingly daily hyper-drive sky-is-falling hissy fits over an intelligence briefing.

During said briefing, Shelby Pierson falsely—or, to be more charitable, mistakenly—claimed that intelligence shows that Russian interference in the 2020 election is due to their preference for President Trump.

Professor Jacobson noted at the time that it sounded fishy.

Yesterday, the NY Times and WaPo almost simultaneously (funny how that works) broke stories suggesting the Russians are intervening in the 2020 election to help Trump and that Trump was trying to cover it up. There were no details to the stories, no named sources. but it was enough to kick off another media frenzy.

. . . . As always happens, the story falls apart after a day or two. Jake Tapper now is tweeting that the original anti-Trump reporting is faulty and wrong.

CNN is now reporting, accurately for a change, that “US intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference.”

The US intelligence community’s top election security official appears to have overstated the intelligence community’s formal assessment of Russian interference in the 2020 election, omitting important nuance during a briefing with lawmakers earlier this month, three national security officials told CNN.

The official, Shelby Pierson, told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election with the goal of helping President Donald Trump get reelected.

The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. But the US does not have evidence that Russia’s interference this cycle is aimed at reelecting Trump, the officials said.

“The intelligence doesn’t say that,” one senior national security official told CNN. “A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that. It’s more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker.”

. . . . One intelligence official said that Pierson’s characterization of the intelligence was “misleading” and a national security official said Pierson failed to provide the “nuance” needed to accurately convey the US intelligence conclusions.

. . . . Trump has been periodically briefed on Russian interference in the 2020 election, but was upset when he learned of Pierson’s characterization of the intelligence in part because intelligence officials had not characterized the interference as explicitly pro-Trump. One national security official said Russia’s only clear aim, as of now, is to sow discord in the United States.

Wait, so the president doesn’t want intelligence briefings to be inaccurate and wrong? The horror!


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