The Washington Post is reporting that the CIA informed U.S. President Barack Obama in August 2016 that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in a cybercampaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election campaign.
The report on June 23 said the intelligence agency had evidence of “specific instructions” by Putin ordering an operation to damage or defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and to help elect her Republican rival, Donald Trump.
At the time, it was widely known by U.S. intelligence officials that hackers linked to Russian intelligence agencies had broken into Democratic Party computer systems for more than a year.
But the August 2016 top-secret briefing by CIA Director John Brennan was the “first moment of true foreboding about Russia’s intentions” reached the president, the Post reported.
The newspaper reported that after the briefing, the Obama administration debated options for deterring or punishing Russia, including possible cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin, and sanctions that could hurt Russia's economy.
It said Obama settled on a modest set of measures that, in effect, were “largely symbolic.”