According to a Time report, U.S. intelligence officers found that the Russians were planning an operation to sway the 2016 elections six months before the vote. U.S. spies learned about the move after intercepting the communications of a Russian military officer working for the Russian spy agency GRU.
U.S. Spies Understood the Context Much Later
The U.S. spy community first officially confirmed that Moscow had interfered in the U.S. presidential election in January. The U.S. intel officers first found about the plan in May 2016 while they were eavesdropping on a conversation in Moscow.
Senior intelligence officials told Time that a GRU officer told a colleague that he plans to meddle with the U.S. presidential election as revenge for what the then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had done to Russia during her tenure as secretary of state.
However, little did the Russian spy knew that American spies were listening. U.S. intel officers sent a transcript of the conversation to headquarters who issued an official report on the matter. At the time, though, U.S. spies had no idea what the Russian officer was suggesting.
We didn’t really understand the context of it until much later,
said the U.S. spy interviewed by Time.
Putin Directly Involved in the Operation
U.S. investigators realized months later that the Russians were not only hacking Democratic leaders’ email accounts, but they were also planning to interfere with the vote. American counterintelligence concluded that Russian leader Vladimir Putin personally approved the operation. The January intelligence report showed that Putin “developed a clear preference” for the then-president-elect Donald Trump.
What’s more, a leaked transcript of a conversation between three GOP leaders confirmed earlier this week that the party’s leadership knew Putin was backing Trump and another Republican but they swore themselves to secrecy.
“There’s …there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: [California Representative Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump … [laughter] … swear to God,”
House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, told Speaker Paul Ryan in a 2016 conversation.
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