Christopher Bing, Joseph Menn and Raphael Satter
March 17, 2021 "Information
Clearing House" - - "Reuters"
- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russian
President Vladimir Putin likely directed efforts to
try to swing the 2020 U.S. presidential election to
Donald Trump, according to an American intelligence
report released on Tuesday that sources said would
likely trigger U.S. sanctions on Moscow.
The 15-page report, released by the Office of the
Director of National Intelligence, added heft to
longstanding allegations that some of Trump's top
lieutenants were playing into Moscow's hands by
amplifying claims made against then-candidate Joe
Biden by Russian-linked Ukrainian figures in the
run-up to the Nov. 3 election. It also added new
findings that Putin either oversaw or at least
approved of the election meddling to benefit Trump.
Washington is expected to impose sanctions on
Moscow as soon as next week because of the
allegations, three sources said on condition of
The findings about Putin's role are likely to
receive particular attention given the report's
conclusions that Russia-backed figures such as
Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach enlisted
unnamed U.S. political figures in their campaign to
smear Biden and his son Hunter.
The report named Derkach, who met Trump's lawyer
Rudy Giuliani in 2019, as someone whose movements
were tracked, if not directed, by Putin.
"Putin had purview over the activities of Andriy
Derkach," the report said. "Other senior officials
also participated in Russia's election influence
efforts - including senior national security and
intelligence officials who we assess would not act
without receiving at least Putin's tacit approval."
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Democrat Biden defeated Republican Trump and
became president in January.
U.S. intelligence agencies and former Special
Counsel Robert Mueller previously concluded that
Russia also interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to
boost Trump's candidacy with a campaign of
propaganda aimed at harming his Democratic opponent
Mueller found extensive contacts between Trump's
campaign and Russia. Trump while president also
faced questions about ties by his associates with
Russia and Russia-linked figures in Ukraine. The
U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump in
2019 - the first of two times - on charges arising
from his request that Ukraine investigate the
The U.S. intelligence report also found other
foreign attempts to sway American voters in 2020
including a "multi-pronged covert influence
campaign" by Iran intended to undercut Trump. As
president, Trump pulled the United States out of a
multilateral nuclear deal with Iran and imposed
The report also punctured a counter-narrative
pushed by Trump's allies that China was interfering
on Biden's behalf, concluding that Beijing "did not
deploy interference efforts."
"China sought stability in its relationship with
the United States and did not view either election
outcome as being advantageous enough for China to
risk blowback if caught," the report said.
U.S. officials said they also saw efforts by
Cuba, Venezuela and the Lebanese militant group
Hezbollah to influence the election, although "in
general, we assess that they were smaller in scale
than those conducted by Russia and Iran."
The Russian, Chinese and Cuban Embassies in
Washington did not immediately return messages
seeking comment. The Iranian mission to the United
Nations and the Venezuelan Ministry of Information
also did not immediately respond to requests for
comment. Moscow, Beijing and Tehran routinely deny
allegations of cyberespionage and election
The White House did not respond to a request for
comment on whether sanctions would be imposed on
Russia as early as next week, which was first
reported by CNN.
Asked about CNN's report, a U.S. official said
Biden had "been clear" Washington would respond to
destabilizing Russian actions and noted U.S. steps
to respond to Russia's alleged us of a chemical
weapon against Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
"There will be more soon," said the official on
condition of anonymity.
Two sources told Reuters the sanctions could
address the cyber hack blamed on Russia that used
U.S. company SolarWinds Corp to penetrate U.S.
government networks as well as reports Russia
offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill
coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Moscow has denied involvement in the hack and
brushed off the bounties allegations.
The intelligence report assessed with high
confidence that Russian leaders "preferred that
former President Trump win re-election despite
perceiving some of his administration's policies as
A key role was played by another man with Russian
intelligence ties, Konstantin Kilimnik, according to
the report. It said Kilimnik and Derkach met and
gave materials to Trump-linked people to push for
formal investigations, and Derkach released four
audio recordings seeking to suggest Biden tried to
protect his son Hunter from a corruption probe in
Ukraine. Giuliani was among those promoting such
Kilimnik was an associate of Paul Manafort, who
served as Trump's 2016 campaign chairman. Trump
pardoned Manafort last year for a criminal
conviction stemming from Mueller's investigation.
Russian agents also tried to hack subsidiaries of
the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, "likely in an
attempt to gather information related to President
Biden's family," it said. Hunter Biden had served on
"Reporting" By Presstitutes,
Christopher Bing and Joseph Menn; Additional
reporting By Presstitutes Eric Beech, Arshad
Mohammed, Daphne Psaledakis and Andrea Shalal;
Writing By Presstitute, Raphael Satter; Editing by
By Presstitute, Jonathan Oatis, Will Dunham and
Grant McCool) and U.S. office of propaganda.
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