It appears that Russia fell for the same ruse that much of America, not to mention its press and punditry, was taken by, at least according to the FBI director: believing US polls.
During his hearing before the House Intel Panel, FBI Director James Comey said that the Russians expected Hillary Clinton to win the presidency over Donald Trump as of August and September.
“Late in the summer they concluded based on the polling that a lot of people were reading that Mr. Trump didn’t stand a chance,” said Comey, although it was not clear just how the FBI knew what the Russians "concluded" as of last summer.
The FBI director's extrapolations then continued: “let’s just focus on undermining her,” Comey says of Russian thinking at the time, which however was also confusing as earlier in his testimony Comey said "we saw no efforts aimed at the vote itself."
Comey then disputed the content of a tweet from President Trump regarding Russia influencing the 2016 presidential race. At the same time that Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers testified to the House Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, the president tweeted a video from his @POTUS account, saying "the NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process."
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process. pic.twitter.com/d9HqkxYBt5
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
Responding to a question from Rep. Jim Himes about the president’s Twitter post that “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process,” Comey said: “We’ve offered no opinion, have no view and have no information on potential impact because it’s never something we looked at.”
POTUS account tweets falsely that NSA and FBI testified no influence on electoral process; testimony was specifically on vote tallying. pic.twitter.com/fV2OdJWiXg
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) March 20, 2017
Comey was then pressed on whether it was "too far of a logical leap to conclude that the assertion that you have told the Congress that there was no influence on the electoral process is not quite right" to which Comey responded "It certainly wasn't our intention to say that today."
"Because we don't have any information on that subject. That's not something that was looked at."
Comey then again seemed to contradict himself when he said that "we saw efforts to penetrate the voter registration databases."
Five hours after its start, the hearing continues, with numerous extrapolations, with no actual facts presented, as the heads of the FBI and NSA redefine "conspiracy theory."