Russian president Vladimir Putin gave specific instructions to damage the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump, the Washington Post has reported.
A secret memo, delivered from the CIA to President Barack Obama and three of his advisers at the White House in August last year, included an “intelligence bombshell” that Mr Putin was directly involved in cyber attacks on Clinton’s election campaign.
The intelligence revealed Mr Putin’s instructions and aim to defeat, or at least damage, Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton.
Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services skimmed through the Democratic Party computer networks as well as the Republican system for more than a year, the story reported.
In July the FBI opened an investigation between Russian officials and Trump associates. Then on July 22 nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were posted online by WikiLeaks.
According to the newspaper, President Obama confronted the Russian president in China a month after receiving the message during a meeting of world leaders.
Citing a senior aide, President Obama reportedly told Mr Putin “we knew what he was doing and [he] better stop or else.”
The Washington Post said the White House considered the intelligence on Putin a serious national security threat and a secret intelligence task force was formed to respond.
During a five-month period, the Obama administration contemplated options to punish Russia for the cyber attacks before issuing expulsions to 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds in December.
The Washington Post reported the Obama Administration regretted they had not taken tougher action after Mr Trump’s shock victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“From national security people there was a sense of immediate introspection, of, ‘Wow, did we mishandle this,’” a former administration official told the newspaper.
President Donald Trump was quick to blame the Obama administration after the story broke on Friday (US time).
Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017
The US newspaper claims the story was obtained by sources within the Kremlin.