Vladimir Putin ‘likely directed’ 2020 US election meddling

Washington is expected to impose sanctions on Moscow following US intelligence report, sources claim

Vladimir Putin ’likely directed efforts’ to try to swing the 2020 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump. Photograph: EPA/ALEXEI DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Vladimir Putin ’likely directed efforts’ to try to swing the 2020 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump. Photograph: EPA/ALEXEI DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

 

Russian president Vladimir Putin likely directed efforts to try to swing the 2020 US presidential election to Donald Trump, according to an American intelligence report released on Tuesday.

The 15-page report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, added heft to longstanding allegations that some of Mr 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 November 3rd election.

It also added new findings that Mr 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.

The findings about Mr 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 US political figures in their campaign to smear Mr Biden and his son Hunter.

The report named Mr Derkach, who met Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in 2019, as someone whose movements were tracked, if not directed, by Mr 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.”

Mr Biden defeated Mr Trump and became president in January.

US intelligence agencies and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller previously concluded that Russia also interfered in the 2016 US election to boost Mr Trump’s candidacy with a campaign of propaganda aimed at harming his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Mr Mueller found extensive contacts between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The US House of Representatives impeached Mr Trump in 2019 – the first of two times – on charges arising from his request that Ukraine investigate the Bidens.

The US 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 Mr Trump.

As president, Mr Trump pulled the United States out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran and imposed fresh sanctions.

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.”

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 anti-Russia.” – Reuters