Two weeks before assuming the office of the presidency, Donald Trump was shown highly classified intelligence that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered a wave of Russian-sponsored hacking and disinformation blitzes to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
According to the New York Times, who first reported the news Wednesday, the evidence was compiled from Russian military officers’ digital footprints, intercepted by U.S. and allied intelligence agencies, as well as top-secret sources close to Putin, who told the CIA how Moscow orchestrated its digital interference operation.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday morning, James Clapper confirmed that Trump was briefed on Putin’s personal involvement in Russia’s 2016 election cyberattacks, adding: “we left very highly classified written documents that laid out in more detail the evidence.”
The directors of the CIA, NSA, FBI, and national intelligence, John Brennan, Michael Rogers, James Comey, and Clapper, respectively, briefed the president-elect on Jan. 6, 2017, at Trump Tower.
Current intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed the findings, and in the wake of Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland this week, restated their confidence that Putin was personally involved in Russia’s hacking campaign.
Since assuming the presidency, Trump has famously gone on to largely disavow the findings of his U.S. intelligence community, casting aspersions on the former spy directors he met with, questioning the competency of his agencies and doubting the perpetrator’s true identity.