Ray Hartley Editor: BusinessLIVE
Picture: AFP
Picture: AFP

The story quoted "a senior US official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to US senators" as saying: "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."

Thus began scandal number 10,942 of president-elect Trump — and his presidency gets under way only in January 2017.

Tearing a strip off the CIA is usually left to journalist John Pilger, with SA ministers such as Kebby Maphatsoe and Nathi Nhleko doing their bit to help.

Supporting the CIA is usually the prerogative of the Republican establishment — think Ronald Reagan, George W Bush and their minions.

This made Trump’s reaction to the story extraordinary. His transition team said: "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."

And this from the president-elect himself: "Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and we tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!"

Democrats and the New York liberal establishment, represented by its organ-in-chief, The New Yorker, rose to defend the CIA report. Staff writer John Cassidy opined: "Never before has a president or president-elect spoken so dismissively of the CIA."

The last word belonged to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, who said: "Vladimir Putin didn’t tell Hillary Clinton to ignore Wisconsin and Michigan."

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