A newly declassified U.S. intelligence report released Friday found that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” online effort to influence the U.S. presidential election.
The report, released hours after President-elect Donald Trump was briefed on the information, said Russian intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 election, including both major politician parties.
“We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report said.
“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” it said.
Among other findings:
Putin has had many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia.
Moscow’s influence campaign followed Russian messaging strategy, blending covert intelligence operations, such as cyberactivity, with overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries and paid social media users.
After election day, the report found Russian intelligence began a spearphishing campaign that targeted U.S. government employees and individuals associated with U.S. think tanks and nongovernmental organizations in national security, defense and foreign policy fields.
Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries, the report found.
The report said, “We assess with high confidence” the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence agency) relayed material it acquired from the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.