Intel Agencies: Russia Attempted to Influence US Elections

The US intelligence agencies released a declassified report on Friday shortly after a two-hour highly classified briefing with President-elect Donald Trump on Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election. Russia’s efforts “represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations,” states the report. The spy agencies unanimously determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself ordered the “influence campaign” and said they had “high confidence” in the fact that the campaign was intended to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” The report also states that “Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” Russian intelligence services likely began targeted cyber operations, against both parties, in March 2016. However, the Department of Homeland Security determined that voting machines, or any machines used to count votes, were not hacked, states the report.

Trump on Friday ?said he had a “constructive meeting” with US intelligence officials. “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. There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful,” Trump said in a statement released after the briefing. “Whether it is our government, organizations, associations, or businesses we need to aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks.”