A declassified intelligence report has said Russian leader Vladimir Putin “ordered” a campaign aimed at influencing the US presidential election and helping Donald Trump win.
US intelligence officials released the 25-page public version of the report yesterday.
This was after they briefed president-elect Donald Trump and top lawmakers on Capitol Hill using a longer, classified document.
The report says Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s long-standing desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order.
It says the scope of Russia’s activities was significantly larger compared with previous operations. According to the report, the Kremlin developed a “clear preference” for MrTrump.
“We also assess Putin and the Russian government aspired to help president-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting secretary [of state Hillary] Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavourably to him,” it said.
After his briefing, Mr Trump stopped short of embracing the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the presidential campaign, saying only that any hacking attempts had “absolutely no effect” on the outcome of the election.
Mr Trump has also said he wants his administration to develop a plan in its first 90 days to “aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks”.
In a statement released shortly after the conclusion of his meeting with intelligence officials, Mr Trump said the nation’s “government, organisations, associations or businesses” would all need to strengthen their cyber- security efforts. He added that security “methods, tools and tactics” should “not be a public discussion that will benefit those who seek to do us harm”.
Mt Trump has previously been deeply sceptical of the intelligence findings that claim that Russia was behind attempts to meddle with last year’s elections.
Confirmation of the intelligence report’s conclusions came after vice-president Joe Biden told Mr Trump to “grow up” and dismissed the president-elect’s complaint on Twitter about how the Obama administration has handled the transition.
The vice-president went on to say in an interview that it was time for Mr Trump “to be an adult”.
He said: “You’re president. You’ve got to do something.
“Show us what you have.”
The vice-president said that Mr Trump as president would have to propose legislation that Congress and the public could then assess.
Arguing that it would be “much clearer what he’s for and against” once Mr Trump is in the position of governing, Mr Biden also said it was “dangerous” for the president-elect to criticise the US intelligence community.
He said it was “absolutely mindless” for a president not to have confidence in or listen to the intelligence agencies and their staff.
The vice-president said it would be legitimate to question intelligence and ask for more detail, or disagree.
But he said that was different to Mr Trump claiming he knows more than the agencies themselves.
Mr Biden said that was similar to arguing: “I know more about physics than my professor.”
He said that Mr Trump’s remarks were worrisome but added that he was assuming Mr Trump’s behaviour would change.
He also said that Mr Trump was surrounding himself with “very smart people”, such as retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, the billionaire businessman’s pick for defence secretary.