Putin clearly tampered in the U.S. election

A new declassified report says Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.

U.S. intelligence officials released the 25-page public version of the report Friday, after they briefed President-elect Donald Trump and top lawmakers on Capitol Hill from a longer, classified version.

The report says Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s long-standing desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order. It says the scope of Russia’s activities was significantly larger compared with previous operations.

Vladimir Putin

After his briefing, Trump stopped short of embracing the intelligence community’s assessment that at with the approval of President Putin, Russia interfered in the presidential campaign, saying only that any hacking attempts had “absolutely no effect” on the outcome of the election.

The 25-page report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, called “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” offers the public a flavor of what officials say is a much more detailed dossier of still-secret evidence that led all 17 American intelligence agencies to conclude with high confidence that the Russians — not the Chinese or a 400-pound hacker in his bedroom, as Trump famously put it — were behind an unprecedented cyber intrusion that some lawmakers have called an act of war.

Emails of Democratic operatives were hacked and distributed through WikiLeaks in a way that political experts say was designed to inflict maximum political damage on the Hillary Clinton campaign. There also were a series of fake news stories damaging to Clinton, many of which got their start with Russian-backed outlets.

The unclassified report laid out a series of “key judgments” about Putin and Russian interfering and hacking that goes back as far as 2008, and goes beyond political organizations.

NBC News was the first to report that a senior U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge confirmed to NBC News that the classified report briefed to President-elect Trump Thursday says that U.S. intelligence picked up senior Russian officials celebrating and congratulating one another over Donald Trump’s win.

The source described the intelligence about the celebration as a minor part of the overall intelligence picture.

“Highly classified intercepts illustrate Russian government planning and direction of a multifaceted campaign by Moscow to undermine the integrity of the American political system,” the official said.

As has been reported before the report does not offer any assessment about whether the hacking, leaking, and proliferation of fake news stories helped Trump win. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress Thursday that “we have no way of gauging the impact…it had on the choices the electorate made. There’s no way for us to gauge that.”

The Russian covert operation, which was reported on before the election, has come to dominate Trump’s transition period, in part because it has appeared to create a widening gulf between Trump and the intelligence community he is poised to lead.

Quotes from ASSOCIATED PRESS and NBC News