Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ attack on election

A newly declassified report says Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.

U.S. intelligence officials released the 25-page public version of the report Friday, after they briefed President-elect Donald Trump and top lawmakers on Capitol Hill from a longer, classified version.

The report on Russian hacking during the U.S. election says the Russian government developed a “clear preference for President-elect Donald Trump.”

It added that the goal of Moscow’s meddling was to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency.

After his briefing, Trump stopped short of embracing the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the presidential campaign, saying only that any hacking attempts had “absolutely no effect” on the outcome of the election.

The report also says that before the election, Russian diplomats publicly denounced the U.S. electoral process and were prepared to publicly call into question the validity of the results.

The report says that based on Moscow’s social media activity, pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign — called (hashtag) DemocracyRIP, or Rest in Peace — on election night because they anticipated that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump.

Intelligence officials are predicting that Russia will continue to develop capabilities to help President Vladimir Putin target the United States.

A new declassified report says that immediately after Election Day, Russian intelligence began a spear-phishing campaign against U.S. government employees and individuals associated with U.S. think tanks or nonprofit organizations working in the fields of national security, defense and foreign policy.

U.S. intelligence officials say this could supply Russia with new material for future influence operations or provide intelligence on the incoming Trump administration’s goals and plans.

–Associated Press

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