Donald Trump’s transition has been plagued by damaging leaks.

Many believe these leaks are coming directly from the intelligence community.

But what is their end game and will it reach a frightening conclusion?

Just days before the Electoral College voters were set to meet to certify Donald Trump’s victory, a bombshell story dropped in the Washington Post.

The Post reported on a CIA assessment that the Russian government had interfered in the election in order to boost Trump’s candidacy.

The Post reported:

“The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

And another leak came out the Friday before the Electoral College vote revealing the FBI joined the CIA’s assessment in concluding Russia’s hacking had the purpose of aiding Trump.

Critics believed these leaks were done by the intelligence community as a Hail Mary play to try and sway enough Electoral College voters to switch their vote from Trump and deny him the Presidency.

Others believed they were done to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.

But the timing matches up with a Democrat pressure-campaign to harass Electoral College voters to cast their ballots for someone other than Trump and throw the election to the House of Representatives.

While Trump ended up winning the Electoral College vote – in fact more faithless electors switched their vote from Hillary than from Trump – it did not stop the leaks.

Just over a week before the inauguration, the political world was consumed by what turned out to be a fake news story designed to further smear Trump.

Buzzfeed published a 35 page opposition research memo put together by a former British intelligence agent that had been circulating around the media and highest levels of government for months.

No one had been able to corroborate any of the information in the memo – and many details proved to be false – but that didn’t stop briefers from including a synopsis of the memo in documents used to brief Obama, Joe Biden, and Trump.

The memo claimed Russia had compromising information on Trump based on lewd gossip.

Trump emphatically denied the claims made in the memo, and no intelligence agency or media outlet has been able to verify the document as reliable.

Trump blasted the report as fake news and raised the possibility that Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan was behind the leak.

much worse – just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2017

Many fear the intelligence community will only ratchet up their smear campaign against Trump.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies are stuffed with career employees – many of whom likely disagree with Trump’s more restrained foreign policy and his desire to improve relations with Russia.

They could possibly mount an entire campaign of leaks in effort to kill his presidency with a death of a thousand cuts.

However, Trump has already shown he is willing to stand up to these smear campaigns and fight back through the press and social media.

And his ability to play offense could be what allows him to avoid a frightening end in this fight.