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A declassified version of a US intelligence report on Russian hacking has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the US presidential election with the aim of hurting Hillary Clinton’s chance of winning.
The report, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, encompasses US intelligence efforts to determine who is responsible for hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” the report said. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
The report also concluded that Russia aimed to help President-elect Donald Trump win the election.
“Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report said.
“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,” it continued. The report said that the CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment and the NSA has moderate confidence.
The report did not assess “the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.”
The report also concluded that the Russian government expected Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state, to win the election.
“Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates,” the report said. “When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.”
The report described an “influence campaign” that included “covert intelligence operations” and cyber activity and “overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users, or ‘trolls.'” The cyber operations extended to both political parties.
The journalist Adrian Chen found as he was reporting on Russia’s army of internet trolls that the country’s troll factories were likely being paid by the Kremlin to spread pro-Trump propaganda on social media.
Trump has challenged the US intelligence community’s assessment of Russian involvement in election-related hacking. On Friday, after receiving a briefing from intelligence officials on the hacking, he seemed to concede that Russia could have played a role.