US intelligence agencies claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered his government to help Republican Donald Trump win the presidential election.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) released a report on Friday which shows Russia "sought to help" Trump by running a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US 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,” the report read.
“When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency,” it added.
Heavily favored to win the election, Clinton led Trump in most polls throughout the campaign but lost the ultimate face-off to him on November 8.
The run-up to the November vote saw the two candidates attacking each other over a series of confidential emails that belonged to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton’s top aide John Podesta.
Trump said that the emails showed Clinton’s corruption, proving that she was unfit to lead the country. Clinton, however, blamed the leaks on Moscow and accused Trump of getting help from the Kremlin.
President Barack Obama’s administration has been blaming the hacks on Russia, but the Kremlin has categorically denied the claim.
The Friday report by the American intelligence agencies claimed that Russia’s behavior since early November had increased the credibility of their assessment.
Trump and Moscow have been on seemingly good terms since the vote. Putin has even written a letter to the incoming US president, calling for better ties with the US.
The report said Russia chose WikiLeaks as an outlet for the hacked documents because of the anti-secrecy website’s “self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity.”
“Russia collected on some Republican-affiliated targets but did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign,” the report continued.
The three agencies concluded that Russia would use the learnings of the “Putin-ordered” campaign to carry out future operations worldwide.