Three versions of the much-anticipated intelligence report into Russian hacking operations against US political targets during the election are being compiled, with a declassified copy set to be released into the public domain next Monday (9 January).
Speaking to NPR, an unnamed US official said the reports will be segmented into public, classified and "highly compartmented" versions, while some of the findings will reportedly remain off-limits to even some officials who have top-secret security clearance.
The report into how Russia used cyberattacks to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was ordered by the Obama administration last month, after leaks emerged from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the email inbox of the chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, John Podesta.
According to NPR's Mary Kelly, who first reported the news, the tight restrictions on the analysis have been deemed necessary to "protect the most sensitive intelligence." Previously US officials, who claim to have evidence of Kremlin involvement, said releasing the data could put lives at risk.
President Obama is set to be briefed on the report's conclusions today (5 January), while incoming President-elect Donald Trump will be informed a day later. The US official told Kelly the report has to go to President Obama first because he ordered the review.
The US intelligence community, including the CIA and FBI, firmly believe Russia was behind numerous cyber-attacks last year launched with the aim of bolstering the chances of Trump winning the race to the White House. This is disputed by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Trump, who has repeatedly voiced his opinion that Russia is not linked to the hacks, recently appeared to side with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, over his own intelligence experts. He tweeted the DNC was "careless" for being infiltrated by alleged state-sponsored hackers.
Assange, who orchestrated the release of tens of thousands of hacked emails, has consistently denied he obtained the trove of documents from the Russian state. In a recent interview with Fox News, he said it was "absolutely false" he worked with the aim of furthering Russian interests.
However, on Wednesday (4 January), Reuters reported that US intelligence agencies had evidence WikiLeaks had been handed the hacked emails by a "third party." The assertion was later branded as "moving the goalposts" by WikiLeaks's verified Twitter account.
The term appears to suggest that authorities are referencing a mysterious figure called Guccifer 2.0, a suspected Russian propaganda front posing as a lone hacker, who previously publicly claimed to have submitted hacked DNC data to WikiLeaks for publication.
On 15 July last year, after leaking a purported DNC strategic report on Donald Trump, Guccifer 2.0 wrote online: "The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to WikiLeaks. They will publish them soon." A day later, WikiLeaks referenced the activity of the hacker.
After the US presidential election, Guccifer 2.0 went dark.