Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (not pictured) in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Pavel Golovkin/Pool

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin built up an arrangement to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential decision to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ confidence in the American constituent framework, three present and four previous U.S. authorities told Reuters.

They portrayed two classified records from the research organization as giving the system and method of reasoning to what U.S. insight organizations have finished up was a concentrated exertion by Russia to meddle with the Nov. 8 decision. U.S. knowledge authorities procured the records, which were set up by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the race.

The establishment is controlled by resigned senior Russian outside knowledge authorities selected by Putin’s office.

The main Russian establishment archive was a technique paper composed last June that coursed at the most elevated amounts of the Russian government however was not routed to a particular people.

It prescribed the Kremlin dispatch a purposeful publicity crusade via web-based networking media and Russian state-upheld worldwide news outlets to energize U.S. voters to choose a president who might take a gentler line toward Russia than the organization of then-President Barack Obama, the seven authorities said.

A moment foundation report, drafted in October and circulated similarly, cautioned that Democratic presidential competitor Hillary Clinton was probably going to win the decision. Therefore, it contended, it was better for Russia to end its ace Trump purposeful publicity and rather heighten its informing about voter extortion to undermine the U.S. constituent framework’s authenticity and harm Clinton’s notoriety with an end goal to undermine her administration, the seven authorities said.

The present and previous U.S. authorities talked on the state of obscurity because of the Russian records’ ordered status. They declined to examine how the United States acquired them. U.S. knowledge offices likewise declined to remark on them.

Putin has denied meddling in the U.S. decision. Putin’s representative and the Russian organization did not react to demands for input.

The archives were fundamental to the Obama organization’s determination that Russia mounted a “fake news” battle and propelled digital assaults against Democratic Party gatherings and Clinton’s crusade, the present and previous authorities said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin goes to a meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (not imagined) in Moscow’s Kremlin, Russia April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Pavel Golovkin/Pool

By Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott | WASHINGTON

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.

Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. election. Putin’s spokesman and the Russian institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The documents were central to the Obama administration’s conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton’s campaign, the current and former officials said.

“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Trump has said Russia’s activities had no impact on the outcome of the race. Ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference have so far produced no public evidence that Trump associates colluded with the Russian effort to change the outcome of the election.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump’s quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Russia Today did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Sputnik dismissed the assertions by the U.S. officials that it participated in a Kremlin campaign as an “absolute pack of lies.” “And by the way, it’s not the first pack of lies we’re hearing from ‘sources in U.S. official circles’,” the spokesperson said in an email.

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