Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign involving covert intelligence operations and overt propaganda to undermine faith in the U.S. election, disparage Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump’s election chances, the intelligence community concluded in a report released Friday afternoon.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report said.
The report, prepared by the CIA, FBI and NSA and released as a 15-page declassified version, said that Russia’s activities during the 2016 election were part of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the U.S. democratic process, but their efforts were intensified this time.
“These activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity and scope of effort compared to previous operations,” said the report, which was presented to President Obama Thursday and on which Mr. Trump was briefed Friday.
Russia’s intelligence services, the report confirmed, conducted cyberattacks that targeted “both major U.S. political parties.” As previously reported, the assessment confirmed the intelligence agencies’ confidence that the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, used Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.com to release U.S. victim data publicly, and it also relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.
In addition to those hacks, the report said that Russian intelligence gained and maintained access to “elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards.” However, DHS assessed that “the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.”
Russia also relied on its government agencies, third-party intermediaries, state-funded media and “paid social media users” to wage a messaging campaign against the U.S. election. This was what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said was part of a “multifaceted” effort in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on Thursday.
The three agencies made clear in their report Friday that they were only charged “with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors.” They did not make an assessment on whether Russia’s activities had an outcome on the election -- they do not analyze “US political processes or US public opinion,” the report said.
Moscow, the report surmised, learned lessons from this Putin-ordered campaign that will be used to “future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.”
A short time earlier Friday, Mr. Trump was briefed on the intelligence community’s findings by Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan and NSA Adm. Mike Rogers. Following the briefing at Trump Tower in New York, Mr. Trump released a statement on what he called a “constructive meeting and conversation” saying that the cyberattacks had “no effect on the outcome of the election.”
“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” Mr. Trump said.
Earlier Friday, the intelligence chiefs briefed senior lawmakers.
“It was really quite a stunning disclosure,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said at her weekly press conference. “When you see this report, you will see with confidence how the intelligence community has identified what we have seen.”
Here’s the full declassified report: