Russia

CIA: Putin personally ordered cyber campaign to help get Trump elected

According to a Washington Post report published this Friday, CIA intelligence from last summer revealed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “direct involvement” in a cyber campaign intended to help Donald Trump win the presidency and damage Hillary Clinton’s chances. The Post‘s report, titled “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault,” focuses on the Obama administration’s response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

When Obama heard the intelligence in August, 2016, his administration struggled with what the response should be because they didn’t want to create the perception that they were trying to influence the election themselves. At the time, it was already known to the Obama White House that Russian hackers had penetrated the DNC and that the FBI was investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

It took time for other parts of the intelligence community to endorse the CIA’s view. Only in the administration’s final weeks in office did it tell the public, in a declassified report, what officials had learned from Brennan in August — that Putin was working to elect Trump.

On Thursday, Trump fired off a tweet where he attempted to shift responsibility to Obama and the Democrats:

From the Post:

But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues — expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds — with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic.

Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure … The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.

To this day, Trump has expressed zero interest in following up with Obama’s plan. According to WaPo, Obama’s initial reaction to news of Russian meddling continues “to stand as the United States’ most forceful response.”

“Russia violated our sovereignty, meddling in one of our most sacred acts as a democracy — electing our president,” former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said. “The Kremlin should have paid a much higher price for that attack. And U.S. policymakers now — both in the White House and Congress — should consider new actions to deter future Russian interventions.”

Featured image via Flickr

 

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