Putin ‘sought to help’ Trump win US election

A report by US intelligence Chiefs release Friday suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Donald Trump win the presidential election. The reports were released shortly after President-elect Trump was briefed on the role of Russia in the alleged hacking of the DNC and other government agencies.

The unclassified report says the Russian leader “ordered” a campaign aimed at influencing the election.

The report says that the Kremlin developed a “clear preference” for Mr Trump.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” it said.

“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.

The 25-page document is a cut-down version of the classified report presented to President Barack Obama on Thursday and to Mr Trump on Friday.

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The unclassified version contained no detailed evidence of Mr Putin’s alleged role.

The report said intelligence agencies had “high confidence” that Russian military intelligence used intermediaries such as WikiLeaks to release emails it had gathered from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democrats.

Russia has denied any involvement in the hacking and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Moscow was not the source for the site’s mass leak of emails from the Democratic Party.

The meeting at Trump Tower involved National Intelligence Director Gen James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey.

Mr Trump, who will be inaugurated on 20 January, described their talks as “constructive”.

In a statement afterwards he declined to single out Russia and said he had “tremendous respect for the work and service done” by those in the US intelligence community.

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“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organisations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election,” he said.

“Whether it is our government, organisations, associations or businesses we need to aggressively combat and stop cyber-attacks. I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office.”

The identities of the Russian agents allegedly directly responsible for the hack are known to US authorities but have not been released public, according sources in the US intelligence community.