POLITICS

REPORT: Putin Personally Directed Democratic E-mail Hacks; Trump Aware of Russian Involvement

15/12/2016 5:48 AM IST | Updated 22/04/2017 7:54 PM IST

If true, allegations in a pair of breaking reports Wednesday evening would mean a hostile foreign power may have successfully interfered with the presidential election of the world’s leading democratic superpower, and the president-elect knew about it.

According to top U.S. intelligence officials, a covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and to assist Donald Trump in a victory over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, was directed by the highest echelons of the Kremlin, including by Russian president Vladimir Putin himself. The report goes on to describe Putin’s involvement as a personal vendetta against Clinton.

The NBC News story broke early Wednesday evening by reporters William Arkin, Ken Dilanian, and Cynthia McFadden. The report is a troubling development to a national news story that has gained traction since The Washington Post reported last Friday that Russian involvement was meant specifically to help Trump. Now sources believe the Russian president himself was involved, the sociopolitical implications of which are disastrous. If the reports are true, a hostile foreign power may have successfully interfered with the presidential election of the world’s leading democratic superpower to suit his preference.

According to the NBC News report:

According to the report, “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.”

The story also alleges that Putin’s involvement evolved from a personal vendetta against Clinton, with whom he has a historically volatile relationship. Clinton was quick to sharply criticize Putin throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. More from the NBC News report:

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.

Another report from The Hill published Wednesday evening detailed comments made by White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who alleged in no uncertain terms that Donald Trump was aware that Russia had perpetrated cyber attacks against the United States PRIOR to the election. Said Earnest:

“There’s ample evidence that was known long before the election and in most cases long before October about the Trump campaign and Russia — everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent,” Earnest said. “It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he had available to him, that Russia was involved and their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent’s campaign.”

If true, allegations the pair of breaking reports Wednesday evening would mean a hostile foreign power may have successfully interfered with the presidential election of the world’s leading democratic superpower, and the president-elect knew about it.

Two days ago, in response to the controversial Washington Post report last Friday, Trump asked followers on Twitter why no one had mentioned Russian hacking before the election.

Many view the tweet as troubling. His reticence to acknowledge that he was even aware of Russian interference, despite his own potentially treasonous call to Russian forces to hack his opponent in July of this year, directly conflicts with the fact that tens of millions of Americans heard the issue come up with Clinton on the presidential debate stage in all. three. debates.

Furthermore, Trump has repeatedly praised Putin in the past, the totality of such developments leading Senator Harry Reid to opine that, in his view, Trump and/or his campaign was aware of or even complicit in the hacking efforts. The Clinton campaign has been trying to draw attention to reports of Russian interventionism for months. On Monday, they announced publicly their support for providing Electors with intelligence briefings in advance of the Electoral College casting their vote for president on December 19th.

A national grassroots movement has gained traction online asking members of the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton in light of these developments, among others. The Electors cast their vote on December 19, 2016. A petition asking the Electoral College Make Hillary Clinton President has gained nearly 5 million signatures, and concerned citizens may join efforts at www.asktheelectors.org.

Alex Mohajer is a contributing political writer and commentator for The Huffington Post, and the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Bros4America. You may tweet him @AlexMohajer or follow him at his official Facebook page.

Also on HuffPost

More On This Topic