President Vladimir Putin was “personally involved” in a covert Russian effort to intervene in the 2016 US presidential election, NBC News has claimed, citing two unnamed American intelligence officials.
US intelligence officials believe with "a high level of confidence" that Putin became involved in hacking during the American election campaign as part of a “vendetta” against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, NBC News reported on Wednesday.
The anonymous officials, purportedly having direct access to the information, told the news network that Putin personally instructed how material hacked from US Democratic lawmakers was leaked and otherwise used.
The officials argued that the Russian president was not only seeking a "vendetta" against Clinton but also wanted to expose massive corruption in American politics and to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the US to be a credible global leader anymore.”
In 2011, Clinton – then US secretary of state – publicly challenged the integrity of the Russian parliamentary elections, and reportedly attempted to incite street protests against the government of Putin. The American officials claimed that the Russian leader has never forgiven Clinton over these anti-Russian moves.
Last week, The Washington Post reported a “secret CIA assessment” that Russia intervened in the November 8 election to help Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump win the White House.
President Barack Obama ordered the intelligence community to fully review Russia’s cyber attacks during the presidential campaign and wants a report before he leaves office in January.
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday Trump said Democrats were behind news reports on intelligence assessments that Russian hackers had intervened to help Trump defeat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the election.
Trump challenged whether the CIA was behind the reports that indicated Moscow had sought to boost his prospects in the election.
Meanwhile, the office overseeing all 17 US spy agencies has not embraced the CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump win the race.
According to a Reuters report published on Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has not endorsed the CIA’s findings because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Russia carried out cyber attacks to boost Trump’s chances against Clinton.