U.S. intelligence officials reportedly believe Russian President Vladimir Putin personally played a role in efforts to manipulate the 2016 presidential election, NBC News reports.
The claim comes from alleged new intelligence that Putin himself played a role in deciding which Democratic National Committee emails to release to WikiLeaks. The intelligence officials elaborated that they got the information from spies working for U.S. intelligence agencies abroad, and other U.S. diplomats.
The goal of the hacks was reportedly to “split off key American allies by creating the image that [others] couldn’t depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore.” These reports come after CIA officials reportedly told Congress Friday they believe Russia explicitly tried to swing the election for President-elect Donald Trump.
Other officials in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI have pushed back against the claim, saying there is simply not enough evidence. Experts say the only way to attribute intent to Putin is to have definitive intelligence, which the CIA does not have.
“It is most certainly consistent with the Putin that I have watched and used to work with when I was an ambassador and in the government,” former U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McCaul told NBCNews.
He elaborated that Putin “has had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, that has been known for a long time because of what she said about his elections back in the parliamentary elections of 2011. He wants to discredit American democracy and make us weaker in terms of leading the liberal democratic order. And most certainly he likes President-elect Trump’s views on Russia.”
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