Mazzetti and Lichtblau then, helpfully, mention that the FBI, the agency which is actually in charge of investigating the hacks and bringing charges against any guilty party, is unconvinced that Russia tried to steal the presidency on behalf of Trump:
And yet, there is skepticism within the American government, particularly at the F.B.I., that this evidence adds up to proof that the Russians had the specific objective of getting Mr. Trump elected.
A senior American law enforcement official said the F.B.I. believed that the Russians probably had a combination of goals, including damaging Mrs. Clinton and undermining American democratic institutions. Whether one of those goals was to install Mr. Trump remains unclear to the F.B.I., he said.
The official played down any disagreement between the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and suggested that the C.I.A.’s conclusions were probably more nuanced than they were being framed in the news media.
The agencies’ differences in judgment may also reflect different methods of investigating the Russian interference. The F.B.I., which has both a law enforcement and an intelligence role, is held to higher standards of proof in examining people involved in the hacking because it has an eye toward eventual criminal prosecutions. The C.I.A. has a broader mandate to develop intelligence assessments.
Law enforcement officials said that if F.B.I. agents had the evidence to charge Russians with specific crimes, they would do so. The F.B.I. and federal prosecutors have already gone aggressively after Russian hackers, including two men detained in Thailand and the Czech Republic whom the United States is trying to extradite.
Russia has tried to block those efforts and has accused the United States of harassing its citizens.
The F.B.I. began investigating Russia’s apparent attempts to meddle in the election over the summer. Agents examined numerous possible connections between Russians and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle, including former Trump aides like Paul Manafort and Carter Page, as well as a mysterious and unexplained trail of computer activity between the Trump Organization and an email account at a large Russian bank, Alfa Bank [which turned out to be nothing].
At the height of its investigation before the election, the F.B.I. saw some indications that the Russians might be explicitly seeking to get Mr. Trump elected, officials said, and investigators collected online evidence and conducted interviews overseas and inside the United States to test that theory.
The F.B.I. was concerned enough about Russia’s influence and possible connections to the Trump campaign that it briefed congressional leaders — including Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader — on some of the evidence this summer and fall. Mr. Reid, in particular, pressed for the F.B.I. to find out more and charged that the agency was sitting on important information that could implicate Russia.
But the agency’s suspicions about a direct effort by Russia to help Mr. Trump, or about possible connections between the two camps, appear to have waned as the investigation continued into September and October. The reasons are not entirely clear, and F.B.I. officials declined to comment.
Now that a partisan squall has erupted over exactly what role Russia played in influencing the election, there is growing momentum among both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill to have a congressional investigation.
“I’m not trying to relitigate the election,” said Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, who is one of the lawmakers calling for such an investigation. “I’m just trying to prevent this from happening again.”Is this an attempted coup? I don't think so. I think it is business as usual. The Democratic Party is in serious trouble. The party leaders do not want to relinquish power to the Bernistas and they don't want the Republicans to coalesce behind Trump and pass a bunch of legislation. How can they achieve what they want in their present diminished state? Reboot the Cold War and McCarthyism. Conduct a big congressional investigation that will keep Democrats from straying from the reservation and isolate Trump from his party.
It is a desperate play, but it is the hand that Democratic leadership is playing. Read Krugman, "The Tainted Election," and the lede unsigned editorial this morning, "Russia’s Hand in America’s Election." It is not going to work, particularly when the activist base of the Democrats are getting their information from outlets that have been smeared as Kremlin dupes.