An explosive new report claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin directly ordered a cyber campaign to interfere in the 2016 election in an all-out effort to get Donald Trump elected and destroy Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the U.S. presidency. The bombshell report reveals that former President Barack Obama was made aware of the Russian hacking in August of 2016 but hid it from the American people.
According to the Washington Post, the sensitive intelligence was "drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government" that detailed Putin having a direct hand in ordering the Russian hacking to help Trump win the presidential election. The report was first delivered to the Obama in August of 2016.
As the Post elaborates, Obama and his team were in an unprecedented predicament over how to respond amid a bitter presidential campaign between Trump and Clinton. Trump was already on the campaign trail ranting about the election process being rigged, and Obama wanted to avoid the appearance of taking sides in the presidential race. Obama was also informed of the cyber attacks by the Russians on Democratic Party officials and the Democratic National Committee. At the time, the FBI had launched an investigation into possible connections between Russian officials and members of Trump's campaign staff.
As explained in the Post's report, Obama pondered options for punishing Russian; he debated executing such plans as launching a cyber attack on Russian infrastructure, releasing CIA material that might humiliate Putin, and sanctions that officials believed would harm the Russian economy. Obama ultimately decided to order the expulsion of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds within the U.S. The former president approved a "covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia's infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow." Apparently, the secretive action was left in the planning stages when Trump was inaugurated, leaving it to his discretion over whether to use that capability.
Putin denied meddling in the U.S. election. The CIA caught him doing just that. https://t.co/LacEmLh50E
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 23, 2017
Former CIA Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8 that there was proven Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He said in sworn testimony that the Russian hacking was done with "purpose," "sophistication," and "overwhelming technical efforts." Comey said unequivocally that the Russian interference was ordered from the highest levels of the nation's government.
Washington Post: Former Obama official says Obama administration "choked" on punishing Russia for election meddling https://t.co/6pWPT1dkMU pic.twitter.com/lBPPKZIPQD
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 23, 2017
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that the Obama administration withheld information they obtained by the CIA due to Trump's claims that the election would be "rigged" against him.
[Featured Image by Adam Berry/Getty Images]