Two senior intelligence officials with direct access to CIA information have told NBC News they believe with “a high level of confidence” that President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the Russian interfere in the US presidential election. They said their information comes from diplomatic sources and spies working for “US allies.”
Putin’s objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News.
According to the officials, the hacking campaign began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton, then evolved into an attempt to expose how corrupt American politics have become, in an attempt to “split off key American allies by creating the image that [they] couldn’t depend on the US to be a credible global leader anymore.”
The CIA apparently believes that from discrediting the US, the campaign evolved eventually into an all out effort to elect Donald Trump.
The FBI, which has done its part to discredit the Clinton campaign, is yet to endorse the CIA view, but, according to NBC News, US security agencies recognize across the board that the Russians were behind the leaking of embarrassing emails from the account of chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign John Podesta.
A former CIA official told NBC News that the US will find it difficult to retaliate by embarrassing Putin, for the same reason the Russians didn’t bother to release embarrassing information about Donald Trump. In both cases the Russian and the American public is already familiar with the allegations about them, most of which came, in Trump’s case, from the President-Elect himself. In Putin’s case, the Russian public has so far accepted and forgiven, reports that he has grown rich through corruption and has ordered the killings of political adversaries.