Donald Trump's dubious claim that foreign governments had 'absolutely no effect' on election outcome
Activities by foreign governments had "absolutely no effect on the outcome of this election." ( Verdict - Mostly FALSE)
On Jan. 6, President-elect Donald Trump was briefed on the U.S. intelligence community’s probe into allegations of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, including possible connections to electronic hacks and public releases of private communications by senior Democrats.
A declassified version of the report found that "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate (Trump’s opponent, Hillary) Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency."
Following the intelligence briefing, Trump’s office released a statement. After noting the "constructive meeting" and the "tremendous respect" he had for their work, Trump stated:
While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat (sic) National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines. There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful.
The phrase that caught our eye was, "there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election."
That's a pretty definitive statement. And Trump echoed this argument in a Jan. 7 tweet: "Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!"
However, the argument that there was no impact of any kind on the election outcome is not backed up by the intelligence community’s report. The report specifically stated it didn’t look at that question.
Here’s what the report actually said:
We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The U.S. Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.
So if the Trump campaign is using the intelligence community report to back up its assertion that there was no Russian influence on the outcome, it's doing so without justification.
When we contacted the Trump transition media office, we did not receive a response. Here’s our review of the publicly available evidence.