US points finger at Russian Intelligence, Putin in 2016 election report

Hours after briefing President-Elect Donald Trump on their findings, U.S. Intelligence leaders released a declassified report on Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 elections, once more publicly accusing Russian Intelligence of being behind hacks of Democratic Party officials, and relaying that material to Wikileaks.

"We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election," the report stated.

"Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process,

denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency," U.S. Intelligence added.

Without offering supporting evidence - presumably because it could reveal American sources and methods for intelligence gathering - the U.S. report said that Russian Intelligence gained access to computer networks of the Democratic National Committee in July of 2015 - and stayed there for almost a year.

"By May, the GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC," the report concluded.

But the report says Russia was doing more than just targeting Hillary Clinton and her campaign apparatus, saying the Russians hacked other candidates, think tanks, and even lobbying groups.

U.S. Intelligence agencies also drew a direct line between Russian Intelligence efforts and the Wikileaks website, noting that the Kremlin-backed RT television network has "actively collaborated" with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Democrats pounced on the release of the report.

"The Intelligence Community’s findings today reveal the full extent of Russia’s efforts to undermine the American democratic process," said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

"Intel community report on Russian interference in the election is damning, irrefutable," added Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

The report also said Russian Intelligence had gone after state and local election computer systems - but there was no finding that those attacks had changed vote tallies.

"DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying," the report stated.

Earlier in the day, President-Elect Trump was personally briefed by top officials; he labeled it a "constructive meeting," but said little more about the Russian link established by the Intelligence Community.

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