New details reported Friday by The Washington Post reveal the extent to which the Russian meddling bore Putin's own signature and brushstrokes.
U.S. intelligence officials have been pointing at Putin since October, when the Obama administration released a statement declaring that the stream of embarrassing emails and other material being posted online by WikiLeaks and other sites were tied to Russian hacking efforts that "only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized."
A broader U.S. intelligence report released in early January went further, identifying Putin by name and concluding that one of the operation's aims was to help elect Donald Trump.
One former CIA official likened the intelligence to the "holy grail," a rare window directly into the plans and intentions of Putin, a former KGB operative who takes extraordinary precautions to protect himself from foreign surveillance. The intelligence was as raw as it was compelling, and it took other U.S. spy agencies months to reach consensus that Putin not only directed the interference but worked to defeat Clinton, a politician he disliked and suspected of fomenting internal Russian opposition.
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