Last October, US intelligence agencies pointed to Russia as responsible for hacking the emails of the Democratic Party. Today, NBC News reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed the leaks of the hacked material to disrupt the election.
The main goals of the campaign are to embarrass the Democrats by giving the emails to WikiLeaks, undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and ultimately to elect Donald Trump. But the objective is also multi-faceted, NBC reports, citing two unnamed “senior US intelligence officials.”
What began as a “vendetta” against the Democratic candidate grew into an effort to expose corruption in the US and to “split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn’t depend on the US to be a credible global leader anymore,” it went on.
America’s 17 intelligence agencies led by the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a joint report stating that the “Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”
It also stated that “based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” It stopped short, however, of implicating Putin to the campaign. But NBC’s sources believe “with a high level of confidence” that the Russian leader is personally involved in the covert operation.
The officials explained that Putin has a grudge on Clinton for inciting protests in Russia following the 2011 elections. The then secretary of state cast doubts on the polls there and called for “free, fair, transparent elections.” In contrast, Trump complimented the Russian leadership.
“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,” said Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia. “He wants to discredit American democracy and make us weaker in terms of leading the liberal democratic order.”