A declassified 25-page summary of the report by FBI, CIA and NSA on “assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent US elections” says that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election”.
That’s pretty bleak. This report contains some of the most damning and explicit language about Russia’s involvement in the US election that we’ve seen so far from US intelligence officials.
From the report:
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. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence. Further information has come to light since Election Day that, when combined with Russian behaviour since early November 2016, increases our confidence in our assessments of Russian motivations and goals.
So, here are America’s extremely sophisticated intelligence agencies saying Russia used hacking to influence the US election against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump. You could be the most emphatic Trump supporter and still realise that is is really, really bad. A massive foreign power intentionally set out to influence the result of America’s presidential election. Let that sink in for a moment. I have, and it makes me feel sick.
When Russia believed that Hillary Clinton would win the election, the report says, its efforts turned towards undermining her future presidency. The intelligence community also thinks that Russia’s influence campaign changed as the electoral prospects of the candidates fluctuated.
A significant part of the report focuses on Russian propaganda efforts, namely Russia’s American media company, Russia Today:
The rapid expansion of RT’s operations and budget and recent candid statements by RT’s leadership point to the channel’s importance to the Kremlin as a messaging tool and indicate a Kremlin directed campaign to undermine faith in the US Government and fuel political protest.
Just before this report was released, Trump received an intelligence briefing from senior US intelligence officials. He bizarrely declared that Russian hacking “had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election“.
However, the report from the US intelligence community squarely pins Russia as the culprit behind the hacks on the Democratic National Committee. The report reads, “In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016.”
Again, this has been pretty obvious for some time now, but these intelligence agencies have yet to be so explicit with its charges. The report also says that Russia’s attempt to influence the US was its “boldest yet”.
Then there’s the Wikileaks connection. The intelligence report explicitly states that hacked material had been given to Wikileaks from Russian intelligence services. Intelligence officials believe that “Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self proclaimed reputation for authenticity”. They added, “Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.”
Read the full report here.