U.S. Officials Say Putin Oversaw Hacking Operation

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According to a Wednesday report from NBC News, two “senior U.S. intelligence officials” say there is now evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally presided over hacks targeting the Democratic National Committee earlier this year. While neither the CIA nor any other intelligence agency has issued an official report confirming this stance, the unnamed officials who spoke to NBC said they have a “high level of confidence” about Putin’s involvement.

Interestingly, though, the officials who leaked this information to NBC appeared to believe the Russians were not necessarily interested in getting Donald Trump elected. One source told the network that the hacks originated as a personal “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton herself. From there, they said, it morphed “into an effort to expose corruption in U.S. politics and to undermine America’s international credibility.”

That’s contrary to last week’s Washington Post story, which reported that senior-level CIA officials now believe that Russia was intentionally trying to make Trump the 45th President of the United States. The NBC report does not indicate which intelligence agency their sources work for, but it has been said that other departments, including the FBI, disagree with the CIA’s analysis of the attacks.

As for the Russian government, they still deny having any role in the hacks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was “astonished” by the NBC report.

“I think this is nothing but nonsense,” Lavrov said Thursday. “There is not a chance that anybody could believe that.”

While the NBC report is somewhat more specific than earlier reports, it stands to reason that if the Russian government was involved in directing, funding, or simply exploiting the hacks, Putin was involved. In their official October statement, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized” the hacks. Highly unlikely that those officials would be working behind Putin’s back.

It feels like we’re building up to something here, but it’s still not clear what that something is. They keep drip-dripping these little hints about Russia’s involvement in “election meddling” without really dropping the bombshell. Is there something there or not? Certainly, the hacks alone – if proven to be state sponsored – deserve a U.S. response of some kind, but is that the culmination of all this? A cyber-war with Moscow?

Or…are we seeing the public face of a deep state movement to invalidate the 2016 election?

It’s been a crazy year, but it’s not over yet.