-- A simmering dispute between President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community erupted into an ugly, public spat over the weekend following reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times that the CIA believes Russian-directed cyber-intrusions into Democratic organizations were conducted with the intent to help Trump get elected.
So how did it get to this point and what is the fight really about?
RUSSIANS REPORTEDLY HELPING TRUMP
The CIA would not comment to ABC News on any of its own new assessments nor would it confirm the Washington Post report. Regarding the report that the RNC was also compromised, U.S. officials did confirm to ABC that elements of the GOP were hacked, but said that the attackers never gained entry into the main systems of the RNC. The also said that their overall effort to compromise the Republican data was not nearly as successful as it was with the Democrats.
Two days after the initial reports, both the Washington Post and New York Times published reports saying there are conflicting points of view within the intelligence community on what Russia's intentions may have been and whether or not Russia sought simply to undermine the election process, or more narrowly to get Trump elected.
This next morning Trump fired off more tweets, questioning the methods used by U.S. intelligence agencies to determine cyber breaches.
WASHINGTON AND THE WHITE HOUSE
And today White House spokesman Josh Earnest waded deep into the controversy, suggesting the hacks only bolster Trump. "You didn't need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious Russian cyberactivity," Earnest said during a briefing with reporters. "The President-elect didn't call it into question, he called on Russia to hack his opponent. He called on Russia to hack Secretary Clinton, Earnest said," referencing Trump's controversial campaign comments.
Others have hit Trump and his team even harder. Democratic congressman from California and the ranking member on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, said Trump's attacks on the intelligence community will undermine the success of his own presidency.
"The most recent and breathtakingly irresponsible statements have come from John Bolton, the President-elect's likely candidate for Deputy Secretary of State, who suggested this week that the Obama Administration hacked the Democratic Party and Secretary Clinton in a ‘false flag’ operation designed to blame the Russians," Schiff's statement read.
"This preposterous conspiracy theory puts Bolton in the same league with other Trump allies who suggested a Clinton child sex ring was operating under a Washington pizza parlor. That Bolton would engage in the propagation of such a bizarre theory should disqualify him from consideration – if his continued advocacy of the invasion of Iraq wasn't already enough cause for alarm."