ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Joining us now for more on this story is Greg Miller of "The Washington Post," part of the reporting team that broke the news last night.
Greg, Russian cyber spying on the United States is not anything new or anything unknown, but it seems that this takes this to an unprecedented level. Can you explain?
GREG MILLER, THE WASHINGTON POST: You're right. Russia has, for many, many years, been suspected of aggressive espionage against the United States in all kinds of areas. But in this case, the thing that separates this instance is what Russian intelligence appears to have done with the material it got, right? So, it's not a surprise that they went after material like it this on a main parties in the United States' system.
But they took this trove, and they used it, and as some ex-agency people have said, they weaponized it. They turned it into a weapon against the United States' system, against — and possibly now, against a particular candidate.
STEWART: According to the CIA assessment, who were these hackers? Were they directly related to the Russian government or were they independent actors who then gave it to WikiLeaks and the Russian government watched with interest?
MILLER: Right. So, these actors who obtained this material and delivered it to WikiLeaks were described to us as being g one step removed from Russian intelligence services as known entities, as having known affiliations with those Russian intelligence services, but nevertheless not necessarily specifically part of those services. And there are still some gaps in the understanding of their role and what happened here, right?
As our story said today, there is — it's not — U.S. intelligence hasn't, you know, doesn't for instance, have specific instructions issued to these actors. But they look — I mean, I think this is part of the emerging case, that the CIA and other spy agencies are really busy assembling, and their identification of these actors is a really critical breakthrough.
STEWART: Let's talk about all the agencies. The CIA has weighed in. The director of the NSA, Admiral Rogers told the "Wall Street Journal" last month about WikiLeaks that, quote, "It was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect."
What about the FBI?
MILLER: Well, the FBI is — is a little harder to understand where they are on this. I mean, there's been lots of speculation about investigations and surveillance efforts that were under way during the election, but a lot of that really remains murky. Director Comey, notably, did not sign off — at least publicly — on the letter that the director of national intelligence and director of homeland security issued in late October, accusing Russia, confronting Russia, with this kind of intervention.
And I think that's partly because the FBI is still pursuing this case. It's still trying to assemble a lot of this information and is trying to stay out of the political fray that is quickly enveloping this story.
STEWART: Let's talk about the politics of this. At any point during this time, did any of the agencies, or the administration or anybody with information about these leaks realize all these leaks are about the DNC, not the RNC?
MILLER: That wasn't lost on Democratic lawmakers. I mean, if you add up, if you stack up all the material that has been released here, it ends up on one side of the political spectrum. Now, how can you not draw the conclusion that Russia was trying to steer to a particular outcome here. And I think the intelligence agencies were reluctant to make that leap until they had enough evidence to back that up, and I think that's what we're starting to see now.
STEWART: What comes next in terms of the Obama administration's calls for an investigation by January 20th?
MILLER: I mean, to me — this is a really interesting time because this sets up a big showdown. Here you have an outgoing administration assembling a– trying to assemble a consensus determination on Russia's role in this past election, something that you can't really argue with, something so compelling, that it will override all of the opposition. And it's setting it up so it will deliver this just as this new president is sworn in, who has dismissed this from the very beginning.
So, to me, it's just a fascinating showdown that awaits here.
STEWART: Greg Miller of the "Washington Post," thank you so much for joining us.
MILLER: Sure, thank you.