Russian state television and state-backed publications say the CIA is trying to mount a 'coup' on President-elect Donald Trump over the intelligence agency's concerns about Russian influence on the 2016 election.
In a Russia Channel segment broadcast Sunday, anchor Dmitry Kiselyov claims the, "CIA says Trump wasn't elected by the American people, but by all-powerful Putin who ordered his hackers to attack the US."
Kiselyov compared the CIA's questions about the extent of influence Russian hackers had on the election to planning "a coup" against Trump. The New York Times, Kiselyov said, is "in the front row" of those who want the Republican overthrown.
The CIA has not said that Trump wasn't elected by Americans, rather that Russian intelligence-linked hackers made a concerted effort to support Trump's campaign. This was done by leaking information about Democrats which was collected via cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta. The FBI supported those assertions Friday (16 December). A review of these claims is being led by prominent Republicans and will be delivered in January before Trump's inauguration.
Kiselyov has been described as "a caricature of a Soviet propagandist" by The Economist for his work on the Russia Channel during the the protests in Kiev, Ukraine, which kicked off the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution to oust the country's pro-Russian oligarch.
On his Sunday show Vesti Nedeli, 18 December, Kiselyov stood in front of a banner reading: "Raped America." With irony he said: "The whole of America has been raped. By who? By Putin."
Kiselev's segment echoed an opinion piece published earlier in the day in Russian online news service Sputnik – a subsidiary of Russia's government owned and operated news agency Rossiya Segodnya.
Columnist Finian Cunningham, who also writes for the Russian government-funded news outlet RT, said the CIA, FBI, and US Director of National Intelligence's claims on Russian hacking during the election "are part of a Deep State coup unfolding against" Trump.
Cunningham speculates that this "coup" could manifest in Trump's "impeachment from the White House after his inauguration in January." Or, he writes, Trump could become the puppet of "the Deep State," a conspiracy theorists bogeyman made up of a cabal of military-industrial complex, Big Oil, and Wall Street players that form a shadow state. The only way to know this, Cunningham writes, is to see whether Trump goes against Russia. "The FBI, has declined to endorse the CIA's assessment," Cunningham says, even though the federal law enforcement agency's support for the assessment was confirmed 16 December.
Trump has repeatedly brushed away the US Intelligence Community's affirmations that Russia was involved in influencing the US election. In early December, during an interview on Fox News, he called the CIA and FBI's findings that Russian intelligence ran a campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton "ridiculous" partisan politics. He has tweeted against the the intelligence agencies and in an interview published in Time magazine said: "I don't believe [Russia] interfered" in the election.
"The obvious thing for... Donald Trump to say is 'I want a full investigation by a bipartisan panel so the American people will know the facts,'" said Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius in an interview on Face the Nation on Sunday. So far Trump has refused any investigation.
"In this whole crazy story, the one thing we really do need to know is whether there is any kind of leverage that Russia has over Donald Trump," Ignatius said. "That's the question that we couldn't really uncover because we never got [Trump's] tax returns. It's crucial before he takes office. Not to attack him, but to liberate him from any pressure. It's a really important thing."