President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he listens to his pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speak during a rally at DeltaPlex Arena, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Mich.
President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he listens to his pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speak during a rally at DeltaPlex Arena, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Mich. AP Photo - Andrew Harnik

CIA: Russian hacks helped Trump win election

DONALD Trump's transition team has dismissed the CIA's reported findings that Russia intervened in the US election in an attempt to ensure his victory, comparing them to investigations into Iraq's non-existence weapons of mass destruction.

The President-elect previously said he did not believe the Russian government had interfered, after making friendly overtures towards Vladimir Putin.

"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," said a statement from his transition team.

"The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest electoral college victories in history. It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again'."

Mr Trump ranks at number 12 of the largest electoral college votes and is currently lagging behind Hillary Clinton by at least 2.7 million in the popular vote.

The CIA has concluded that hackers backed by the Russian government targeted Democratic officials' email accounts with the specific aim for Mr Trump to win, The Washington Post reported.

"It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia's goal here was to favour one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected," a senior official said. "That's the consensus view."

Asked about previous allegations Russia was behind a damaging leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Ms Clinton's campaign team, Mr Trump told Time magazine: "I don't believe it. I don't believe they interfered."

Members of his transition team have also cast doubt on the findings of government and security agencies they will soon be running.

Michael Flynn Jr, the son of the President-elect's pick for national security adviser, was among those supporting the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led to a man opening fire in a Washington restaurant.

While working for his father, he shared a fake conspiracy that Ms Clinton's allies had been running a paedophile ring in the Comet Ping Pong pizza parlour on social media.

After a gunman claiming to "investigate" the allegations opened fire at the restaurant on Sunday, Flynn Jr tweeted: "Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story."

The incident has heightened concerns about the incoming administration's support for conspiracy theorists including Alex Jones, the proprietor of Infowars, and comments made by Mr Trump himself suggesting wide-ranging plots against him in the American establishment.

He claimed the election was "absolutely rigged" as polls forecast a humiliating defeat but swiftly dropped the allegations after his victory.

As the DNC emails scandal raged in July, Mr Trump also called on the Russian government to releasing tens of thousands of private emails from Ms Clinton.

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," he said at a press conference in Florida. "They probably have them. I'd like to have them released."

Analysts have reportedly assessed "with high confidence" that at some point in the presidential campaign  Mr Putin's government had decided to try to bolster the Republican underdog's chances of winning, The Washington Post reported.

An anonymous official repeated the assertion to the Reuters news agency, saying Russian government officials devoted increasing attention to helping Mr Trump's campaign as the election wore, aiding the mass leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Ms Clinton's campaign chairman.

"That was a major clue to their intent," the official said. "If all they wanted to do was discredit our political system, why publicise the failings of just one party, especially when you have a target like Trump?"

Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed Mr Trump's election victory (AP)
The findings do not cover whether the cyber attacks significantly affected the outcome of the election.

Barack Obama has ordered intelligence agencies to review cyber attacks and foreign intervention into the 2016 election and deliver a report before he leaves office next month.

Moscow is accused of launching a similar effort to influence the German election, following an alleged campaign to promote far-right and nationalist political parties and individuals in Europe that began more than a decade ago.

The head of Germany's BfV intelligence agency said there was growing evidence of attempts to influence next year's federal election, where Angela Merkel will try to secure a fourth term, with "increasingly aggressive cyber espionage".

Russian officials have denied all accusations of interference in both elections and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said the Kremlin was not the source of its material in an interview published on the state-owned broadcaster Russia Today.

"The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything," he said. "Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications.

"That's false - we can say that the Russian government is not the source."

Mr Trump's widely unexpected election victory was met with spontaneous applause in the State Duma and friendly overtures from Mr Putin, who said the pair would work together to "straighten out" relations between the US and Russia.

Tensions have been steadily mounting over Russia's intervention to support President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, intervention in Ukraine and military build-up in countries bordering Nato members.