Saturday, January 07, 2017


"WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” [A number of Republican senators supported the U.S. Intelligence agencies' conclusions]
Those conclusions were part of a declassified intelligence report that was released Friday. 
Its main conclusions were described to President-elect Donald Trump by intelligence officials earlier in the day. Mr. Trump acknowledged, for the first time, that Russia had sought to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems. He insisted the effort had no effect on the election and said nothing about the conclusion that Mr. Putin, at some point last year, decided to aid the Trump candidacy.  [Prior to this Trump denied that Russians were behind the hacking and, in post-truth mode, asserted that any 14-year old could have done the hacking]

The report, a detailed account of Russia’s efforts to undermine the U.S. electoral system, went on to assess that Mr. Putin had “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

The report described a broad campaign that included covert operations, including cyberactivities and the “trolling” on the Internet of people who were viewed as opponents of Russia’s effort. 

While it accused Russian intelligence agencies of obtaining and maintaining “access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,” it concluded — as officials have publicly — that there was no evidence of tampering with the Nov. 8 tally.

The report, reflecting the assessments of the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency, stopped short of backing Mr. Trump on his declaration that the hacking activity had no effect on the election. 

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election,” the report concluded, saying it was beyond its responsibility to analyze U.S. “political processes” or public opinion.  [We probably never will be able to determine if the leaks changed the course of the election.]

The report makes clear that Mr. Putin favored Mr. Trump in part because he had previous success dealing with “Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia” and in part because he viewed Mr. Trump as a more likely ally in forming Russia’s version of a coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

The report also stated that Russia collected data “on some Republican-affiliated targets,” but did not disclose the contents of whatever it harvested.

The key to the report’s assessment is that Russia’s motives “evolved over the course of the campaign.” 

When it appeared Mrs. Clinton was more likely to win, the report concluded, the Russian effort focused “on undermining her future presidency.” 

It noted that Mr. Putin had a particular animus for Mrs. Clinton because he believed she had incited protests against him in late 2011.

Yet the attacks, the report said, began long before anyone could have known that Mr. Trump, considered a dark horse, would win the Republican nomination. 

It said the attacks began as early as July, 2015, when Russian intelligence operatives first gained access to the DNC’s networks."
Prior to this time, it appeared that Trump was going to buddy-up with Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Both are hard-core, right-wing authoritarian politicians. Is Trump a wannabe? The buddying up with Putin may cool.
P.S.  I didn't vote for either Trump or Clinton.


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