Three high-level officials speaking on condition of anonymity told the news agency that the ODNI has refused to back the CIA's analysis, even though it does not dispute the claims.
"ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can't prove intent," one of the officials speaking to Reuters said. "Of course they can't, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow," the official added.
The ODNI's assessment amounts to a demoralizing blow to the CIA, which issued claims last week that the Kremlin had interfered in the US election not just to "undermine confidence" in US elections, but to "help" President-elect Trump "win the presidency."
Observers suggest that the ongoing FBI-CIA dispute stems from the fact that the domestic intelligence agency has higher standards regarding evidence and the establishment of intent, which must be able to stand up in court. The CIA, meanwhile, is normally tasked with producing intelligence analyses, which do not have to stand up to legal scrutiny. The CIA has yet to publically disclose its findings, prompting lawmakers and the White House to call for their own inquiries. Obama wants his intelligence review to be concluded before he leaves office in January.
President-elect Trump, who together with Hillary Clinton stands at the heart of the hacking controversy, dismissed the CIA's claims as a "conspiracy theory," and has asked why the issue wasn't "brought up before [the] election."
Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 12 декабря 2016 г.
On Sunday, Trump told Fox News that "once they hack, if you don't catch them in the act you're not going to catch them. They have no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody [else]. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea."
On Tuesday, Russian officials, the other party in the case, also chimed in to comment on the ODNI's assessment. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that "the story related to the 'hacks'" now simply "resembles an ordinary clash of America's security forces over spheres of influence."