U.S. spies reportedly heard a Russian military intelligence officer bragging about his organization planning to target Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE in May 2016.
The officer told a colleague that GRU would cause havoc in America’s presidential election, Time reported Thursday.
The officer reportedly described the intelligence agency’s effort as retribution for what Russian President Vladimir Putin considered Clinton’s influence campaign against him while serving as secretary of State.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials told Time that American spies transcribed the conversation and sent it to headquarters for analysis.
Time reported that an official document based on the raw intelligence was then circulated.
“We didn’t really understand the context of it until much later,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said.
Putin publicly accused Clinton of conducting a major operation against Russia when protests erupted in more than 70 cities in 2011.
The Russian leader said that Clinton had sent “a signal” to demonstrators and that the State Department had actively worked to fuel the unrest.
The State Department countered that it had only funded pro-democracy organizations.
Former officials told Time that such operations would have required a special intelligence finding by the president.
Former President Obama was unlikely to have issued such a directive, Time’s sources added.
Multiple investigations are now looking into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and any possible coordination with President Trump's campaign.