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U.S. Intelligence Report Assessed Russian Activities in Recent U.S. Elections | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin © Reuters

Washington – The U.S. Congress officially approved on Friday the presidential elections’ results on November 08 which the Republican billionaire Donald Trump won.

As controversial as it may seem, the results coincided with the publication of a report that accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of an “influence campaign” to boost Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election and impugn Hillary Clinton’s credibility.

During the congress session, a handful of House Democrats raised objections to ballots cast for Trump and running mate Mike Pence, but without the support of a single senator, their efforts were futile.

Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the tally, ruled the congressmen objecting out of order. “It is over,” Biden said.

The report, prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), pointed out that: “Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.”

Disputes continued between the intelligence and Trump after the 25-pages report was disclosed. The report drew on intelligence gathered by the FBI, CIA, and NSA, concluded that Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.

After meeting with U.S. intelligence officials at Trump Tower, Trump did not endorse the conclusion of Russian interference but said he would task his administration with devising a new plan to “aggressively combat and stop cyber attacks”.

Trump said he had “tremendous respect for the work and service done by the men and women of this community. He described the meeting with senior intelligence officials, as “constructive”.

“Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations,” Trump said in a statement, and underlined “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

Prior to the elections, WikiLeaks published a huge number of private emails from Clinton allies, which affected the Democrats candidate.

Trump saw the full ODNI report during his meeting, as well as President Obama.

Gordon Corera, BBC News’ Security correspondent, hoped the new report would contain at least some new technical detail, but he said it contained only few information of what hasn’t been disclosed before.

Corera said that the report didn’t reveal its sources, something which would not convince those who doubt it. But he said that for the first time, it is shown that Russia sided with a party.

Following the publication of the report, President Obama said he’s concerned about Republican commentators who appear to side with Russia over the US, adding that Russian President should not be trusted.

“One of the things I am concerned about is the degree to which we’ve seen a lot of commentary lately where there are Republicans or pundits or cable commentators who seem to have more confidence in Vladimir Putin than fellow Americans because those fellow Americans are Democrats,” said Obama during an interview with ABC News.

“Well, what I will say is that — and I said that after the election — we have to remind ourselves that we’re on the same team,” Obama declared adding that: “Vladimir Putin is not on our team.”

ONDI also mentioned that: “Moscow will apply lessons learnt from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against U.S. allies and their election processes.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “We must also be clear that there is no evidence that there was any interference in the voting or balloting process. We cannot allow partisans to exploit this report in an attempt to delegitimize the president-elect’s victory.”

In the report, there were no solid evidence of Russian interference, but the hacking of several democrats’ computers was done from Russia.

Whether the Russian interference added more votes for Trump, the report can’t be sure.

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion,” explained the report.

According to the report, Russian officials didn’t predict Trump’s victory. Before the election, Russian diplomats had publicly denounced the U.S. electoral process and were prepared to publicly call into question the validity of the results.

The ODNI also added that: “ProKremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night in anticipation of Secretary Clinton’s victory.”

The report also indicated that Russian media played a role in favoring Trump. It explained: “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine—comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik, contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.”

During the 2016 campaign, RT aired a number of conspiratorial segments cast Clinton as corrupt and funded by ISIS and portrayed the U.S. electoral system as rigged.

“We assess the Russian intelligence services would have seen their election influence campaign as at least a qualified success because of their perceived ability to impact public discussion,” ODNI writes.