Russian officials have dismissed an NBC News report that said U.S. intelligence officials believe with a “high level of confidence” that President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. Presidential election.
Citing two senior officials, NBC News reported that new intelligence "shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from [U.S.] Democrats was leaked and otherwise used."
The NBC report came as controversy over evidence of Russian interference grew after a CIA assessment that Moscow's aim was to help Republican Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 8 election, which Trump won.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists on December 15 that the Kremlin considers the report "funny nonsense," state news agency RIA reported. He added: "Funny nonsense can have no basis."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the report "stupidity."
"I was simply stunned when I saw this news on the television screen," another state news agency, TASS, quoted Lavrov as saying. "The stupidity…of such an effort to convince anybody of this is obvious, in my view."
The NBC News report said the intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies.
It cited a high-level intelligence source as saying that what began as a "vendetta" for Putin against Clinton turned into an effort to portray U.S. politics as corrupt and to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader."