CIA, Obama knew of Russia's US election rigging since August: Report
Washington Post reported that the CIA was aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to pull out all stops to make Donald Trump win last year's election. Photograph: (AFP)
The CIA was aware way back in August about Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election, according to Washington Post.
The report said although the intelligence officers were aware of Russia's plan to help boost Trump's numbers during the election, they decided to take action after the vote.
The report suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally asked Kremlin to help rig the election in Trump's favour.
The Post report said the Barack Obama administration and the CIA received a courier in August which detailed Putin's personal instruction to help defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But after the election result was declared, there was a consensus among the intelligence agencies of flagrantly failing to curb Russia's footprint on the election.
"From national security people there was a sense of immediate introspection, of, 'Wow, did we mishandle this,'" a former administration official told the newspaper.
They couldn't do anything about embarrassing WikiLeaks revelations from hacked Clinton emails. The focus turned to whether Moscow could disrupt the November 8 vote itself by hacking voter registration lists or voting machines, undermining confidence in the vote tally itself.
Worried about making the situation worse, the administration put off retaliating, and instead delivered stiff warnings directly to the Russians not to go farther.
At least four direct warnings -- president Barack Obama to Putin, spy chief to spy chief, and via top diplomatic channels -- appeared to have an impact, officials told the Post.
They believe that Moscow pulled back on any possible plans to sabotage US voting operations.
The CIA had weighed in on numerous options to tackle with Russia after the election. Some of them were imposing sanctions on Russia that could "crater" their economy, launch cyberattacks against Russia and embarrassing leaks against Putin. But Trump's unexpected victory put those options in a cryogenic freeze.
Even Obama's actions were relatively feeble. All he did was to approve a "modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues — expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds — with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic".
A senior official in the Obama administration admitted that they "sort of choked" when it came to dealing with the entire fiasco -- the "crime of the century" as the Post put it.
“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” the unnamed official said.
Obama's post-election actions have been attacked by his controversial predecessor during an interview with Fox News, which will be aired on Sunday.
"The CIA gave him (Obama) information on Russia a long time before they even -- before the election. And I hardly see it. It's an amazing thing," Trump told Fox News, one of the promos of the interview showed.
Trump also took to Twitter to question Obama's inaction.
"Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?"
Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017