Putin ordered campaign to influence prez election: US intel


The US on Saturday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering an “influence campaign” to help Donald Trump win the White House and denigrate his rival Hillary Clinton in a bid to undermine her electability and public faith in the American democratic process.

However, President-elect Trump was quick to refute the conclusion, saying hacking did not impact the November 8 presidential polls outcome.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” said a report by the Director of National Intelligence.

The 31-page report alleges that Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency in the high-voltage polls against Republican Trump.

“We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgements,” the US intelligence community said in the report which was submitted to outgoing President Barack Obama on Thursday.

Obama had ordered a comprehensive probe into allegations of Russian hacking the Democratic party’s email system.

A team of intelligence officials briefed Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on the report in New York.

“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 including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” Trump said in a statement after the meeting.

“There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee (RNC), but the RNC had strong hacking defences and the hackers were unsuccessful.

“I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office. The methods, tools and tactics we use to keep America safe should not be a public discussion that will benefit those who seek to do us harm. Two weeks from today I will take the oath of office and America’s safety and security will be my number one priority,” Trump said, adding that there is a need to aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks.

Trump who was briefed by the top four US intelligence chiefs earlier declined to single out Russia over cyber-interference in the US election and said he was confident the outcome was not affected by hacking.

Trump made the statement after meeting the spy chiefs who concluded that senior Russian government officials were behind an unprecedented effort to influence the election by hacking and leaking documents that embarrassed Trump’s rival Clinton.