Intelligence officials showed Trump classified proof Putin ordered election interference: report

President Trump was reportedly shown highly classified information more than a year ago proving that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered cyberattacks to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. 

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Trump was shown the information at a briefing weeks before his inauguration. The documents he was shown included texts and emails from Russian military officers, as well as information from a source close to Putin, according to the Times.

Sources who attended the briefing told the Times that Trump was “grudgingly convinced” that Putin ordered the interference, a sentiment that stands in contrast to his comments at a press conference with Putin earlier this week. 

In comments that he walked back more than 24 hours later, Trump said he did not see any reason why Russia would have been behind interference in the election. {mosads}

He later said he “misspoke,” and that he accepted the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but added that it “could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

And on Wednesday, the president replied, “no,” to a reporter’s question about whether Russia is still targeting the U.S. The White House also walked back that comment, saying that he was saying “no” to answering the reporter’s question.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has decried the investigation into Russian meddling in the election as a “witch hunt,” and repeatedly maintained that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller has charged numerous Russian individuals — including, most recently, 12 Russian intelligence officers — in connection to cyberattacks and social media influence campaigns aimed at sowing discord among the American public to sway the election toward Trump. 

At the meeting ahead of his inauguration, the Times reported that former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers and former FBI Director James Comey briefed Trump on documents, emails and human sources leading them to conclude that Putin personally ordered cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the election.

The intelligence community has maintained this position throughout Trump’s presidency.

But despite the evidence he was shown personally and his administration’s stance, Trump has repeatedly appeared to discredit the intelligence community’s findings.

In an interview Wednesday night with CBS News’s Jeff Glor, following more than 48 hours of steady backlash over the press conference, Trump said that he holds Putin personally responsible for Russian interference in the election “because he’s in charge of the country.”

And he echoed what he said Tuesday, which at the time he read from prepared remarks: “I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently constituted.”

–Updated at 11:35 p.m.

Tags Classified information Donald Trump James Clapper James Comey John Brennan Robert Mueller Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections

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