Report: Putin ordered campaign interference
Elections | Intelligence officials say the Kremlin sought to discredit Hillary Clinton
by Evan Wilt
Posted 1/06/17, 05:36 pm
WASHINGTON—The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified version of its Russian election hack review today concluding the Kremlin sought to discredit Hillary Clinton so Donald Trump would win the presidency.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” read the joint report from the U.S. intelligence community. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”
In the weeks leading up to the election, the website WikiLeaks released a trove of stolen emails from Clinton aides and the Democratic National Committee. After growing claims of Russia’s involvement in the hack, President Barack Obama ordered a complete review of the Kremlin’s actions early last month. Today, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed congressional leaders and Obama in Washington on the intelligence community’s findings and then informed Trump in New York City this afternoon. Most of the report is still classified, but Clapper released a 25-page redacted version for the public that implicates Putin directly in attempting to aid Trump’s chances at winning.
The report asserts Putin wanted to help Trump by obtaining and releasing damaging information about Clinton. The CIA and FBI have “high confidence” in those claims, and the National Security Agency has “moderate confidence.”
Intelligence officers also said one of Russia’s goals was to undermine American faith in a free and fair election process.
The report said Moscow coordinated the efforts through an orchestrated messaging strategy from Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users who “trolled” online.
After his briefing, Trump still remained skeptical Russia succeeded in its intended goals outlined in the report.
“There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” Trump said in a written statement following the briefing.
Yet the president-elect said this is an area of concern and announced he would appoint a cybersecurity team to prevent future attacks within 90 days of taking office.
Intelligence officials asserted in the unclassified report they expected Russia to continue its online propaganda effort to influence U.S. allies and future elections based on lessons learned from tampering in 2016.
This week, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed none of his group’s information came from the Russian government or individuals connected to the Kremlin. Today’s report states the intelligence community believes with “high confidence” Russia relayed information to WikiLeaks and other media outlets.
Evan is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD reporter.