U.S. intelligence officials revealed Wednesday that they have conclusive evidence Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election hack to help elect Donald Trump, NBC News reported. Putin directed the cyber attacks, which has been labeled an “act of war”, after Trump openly invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called the cyber attacks against U.S. election systems “an act of war.”
Meanwhile, Trump has complimented the Russian president’s “leadership.”
The 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.
As NBC reports:
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.
Putin has 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.