Russian President Vladimir Putin 'ordered' a campaign to get Republican Donald Trump elected US president by exposing embarrassing material about Democrat Hillary Clinton, the top US intelligence agencies said.
"We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election," a report by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency said on Friday.
The unclassified report says Russian hackers targetted both Democratic and the Republican parties, but the primary intention was to discredit Clinton against whom Putin nursed a longstanding grudge.
"We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him," the intelligence report said.
The 250-page report details how Putin was motivated by personal enmity towards Clinton. "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," it said.
Russia, which has denied the hacking claims, did not comment on the latest report. Trump, who has defended the legitimacy of his election, said the attempts by external elements to sabotage the US democracy have not been successful.
"Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations" including the DNC," Trump said.
"There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines," he added after a 2-hour briefing on the latest report.
The report said Russian Russian military intelligence, the GRU, used intermediaries like WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0 persona to release the sensitive information unearthed through the hackings. Earlier, WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange had denied he was supplied the information by the Russians, he had not denied that the data sets might have come from external sources.
Democrat leaders rejected Trump's claim that the Russian interference had no impact on the outcome of the election.
"The President-Elect's statement that the Russian hacking had 'absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election' is not supported by the briefing, report, or common sense," Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said, according to Reuters.