NBC News: US Officials Say Putin Personally Involved in US Election Hack

By Joe Gandelman / 12.15.2016
Editor-in-Chief, The Moderate Voice

NBC news has just released a report indicating that U.S. officials now say Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the U.S. election hack — the one Donald Trump rejects as being done by Russia because he says there’s no proof. Additionally, they note that Putin had a variety of reasons to do this and one was to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Which means to elect Donald Trump.

The Huffington Post reports that CBS News has corroborated the report. NBC reports:

U.S. intelligence officials now believe with “a high level of confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.

Putin’s objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to “split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn’t depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore,” the official said.

It seems now with President Elect Donald Trump’s statements more than a month away from the inauguration: mission accomplished.

Ultimately, the CIA has assessed, the Russian government wanted to elect Donald Trump. The FBI and other agencies don’t fully endorse that view, but few officials would dispute that the Russian operation was intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy by leaking embarrassing emails about Democrats.

The latest intelligence said to show Putin’s involvement goes much further than the information the U.S. was relying on in October, when all 17 intelligence agencies signed onto a statement attributing the Democratic National Committee hack to Russia.

The statement said officials believed that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” That was an intelligence judgment based on an understanding of the Russian system of government, which Putin controls with absolute authority.

Now the U.S has solid information tying Putin to the operation, the intelligence officials say. Their use of the term “high confidence” implies that the intelligence is nearly incontrovertible.

“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, who was ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014.

“He 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,” McFaul added. Clinton cast doubt on the integrity of Russia’s elections.

As part of contingency planning for potential retaliation against Russia, according to officials, U.S. intelligence agencies have stepped up their probing into his personal financial empire.

What’ll happen next? Here’s a prediction:

1. Fox News and GOPers who’ve suddenly come to like Putin and Wikileaks now (hey, he’s on the team and helped defeat Hillary) will back whatever Trump says.

Trump tweets; his followers parrot.

2. Any Congressional investigation will end in either a downplaying of what occurred or an overt or covert cover up.

3. This report will be dismissed by full fledged members of the Trumpublican Party as the mean, old liberal, lying media because — as every one knows — Russia Today, Breitbart, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are the real places to go for facts and not bias.

4. It will be claimed that this and the whole thing is all an Obama plot (as has already been suggested) to frame Trump and Putin, a person who truly has democratic values and would never stoop to such a thing.

The bottom line? The GOP is now not the party of Reagan or Lincoln but the Trumpublican Party. Or, if these reports are true, is it the Trumputinublican Party?

Time (not the magazine) will provide the answer, which we don’t have yet.

You read all of the four points above here first.

Some additional context from the Huffington Post:

NBC’s bombshell story comes days after The Washington Post reported that the Central Intelligence Agency believes Russia sought to influence the election and help secure President-elect Donald Trump’s victory. Those efforts reportedly included hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and providing them to WikiLeaks. The New York Times, in an extensive report on the hacks, offered details on how the attacks were carried out and reported that Democratic House candidates were also targeted.

….Neither the CIA’s public information office nor Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks immediately responded to requests for comment.

Putin has long considered Clinton a foe, and claimed the former secretary of state incited protests in Russia following the country’s 2011 elections. (Clinton had sided with protesters and called for “free, fair, transparent elections” in the country.)

In contrast, Putin has praised Trump as “bright and talented,” and the U.S. president-elect has complimented the Russian president’s leadership.

Trump dismissed the earlier report on Russia’s alleged involvement in the election, telling Fox News on Sunday he thinks it’s “ridiculous” to believe the Russian government wanted to steal the election for him.

“I think it’s just another excuse,” Trump said. “I don’t believe it.”

And if you believe that, I know a nice furry bunny that’ll come into your home and deposit candy eggs next Easter.