WASHINGTON — A declassified intelligence report released Friday concludes that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking into Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, and that the intent of the operation was to help get Donald Trump elected president.
"We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election," said the report, which was the work of the FBI, CIA and the National Security Agency. "Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."
The release of the highly anticipated report shed few additional details into how the Russians stole and leaked the emails, which were posted on web sites like Wikileaks that have denied Russian involvement.
President Obama ordered the report last month after Democratic members of Congress alleged that Russia's interference was one-sided and had the intent of getting Trump elected. Previously, the intelligence community had concluded only that Russia intended to interfere with the Democratic process by hacking emails belonging to Clinton campaign aides and the Democratic National Committee — but stopped short of suggesting that Russia was seeking any particular outcome.
Friday's report noted that Putin and other Kremlin officials often praised Trump, whom they saw as more Russia-friendly on issues like Syria and Ukraine. The report also said Moscow also saw the election of Trump "as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant."
The report did not assess what impact the hacking had on the outcome of the presidential election, but it made clear that the agencies did not believe any vote-counting systems were breached.
The declassified version offers little new public evidence, and the document argued that revealing the full extent of intelligence on the hacking could jeopardize sources and methods.
Indeed, much of the report is based on public press reports. A seven-page annex to the report highlights the role that a Russian-owned television network, RT America, had in spreading Russian propaganda during the campaign.
"RT America TV, a Kremlin-financed channel operated from within the United States, has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties," the report said. "RT's criticism of the US election was the latest facet of its broader and longer-standing anti-US messaging likely aimed at undermining viewers' trust in US democratic procedures and undercutting US criticism of Russia's political system."
Obama received the report Thursday, and Trump was briefed on the classified version on Friday.
In a statement, Trump conceded that Russia and China "are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee." He said hackers also attempted to break into Republican National Committee systems but were unsuccessful.
Trump also insisted that "there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election."
That remains a point of contention. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump's conclusion that the Russian hacking had no effect "is not supported by the briefing, report, or common sense."
"It is one thing to say that there was no tampering with vote tallying — which is true — it is another thing to say that the daily dumping of documents disparaging to Secretary Clinton that was made possible by Russian cyber operations had no effect on the campaigns," said Schiff, who was briefed on the report with members of Congress on Friday morning. "These conclusions are well-supported by the evidence and the report should put to rest any uncertainty as to Russian responsibility for this unprecedented interference in our internal affairs."