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Putin Ordered 'Influence Campaign' To Help Trump, U.S. Intelligence Report Says

Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow, Russian Federation.

The intelligence report on Russia's interference in the U.S. elections concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" that aimed to help President-elect Donald Trump.

"Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency," the public version of the report from the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency states. "We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

This is the first time the U.S. government has leveled these accusations directly at Putin, as NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reports. "It's obviously a big deal to level that kind of charge at the head of state of a foreign country," she says.

The report does not weigh in on whether this "influence campaign" changed the outcome of the U.S. election.

Here are some of the report's key findings:

  • 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."
  • The report states that Putin's motivation to discredit Clinton was at least partially personal. It says he "publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him."
  • Russian intelligence "conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties." This included primary campaigns, think tanks and lobbying groups.
  • The report asserts with "high confidence" that Russia's General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate "relayed material it acquired from the [Democratic National Committee] and senior Democratic officials to Wikileaks."
  • "Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards."
  • Taken together, these efforts "represented a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations aimed at US elections."
  • Copyright 2016 NPR