CIA: Putin ‘Probably Directing’ Election Interference Against Biden

A top-secret CIA assessment indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top aides are “probably directing” a foreign influence operation to interfere in the upcoming presidential election.

In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, columnist Josh Rogin writes that two sources who reviewed the secret assessment said the meddling involves a prominent Ukrainian lawmaker who has ties to President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Rogin writes that the sources said the CIA published the assessment of Russian election interference in an “internal, highly classified report called the CIA Worldwide Intelligence Review” on Aug. 31.

The assessment was made with input from National Security Agency, the FBI, and both unclassified and classified intelligence sources.

According to the newspaper, the assessment includes details of the CIA’s analysis of how Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach is spreading disparaging information about Biden inside the U.S. through lobbyists, Congress, the media, and contacts with figures close to the president. The assessment describes Derkach’s interactions with a “prominent” person tied to the Trump campaign, but doesn’t say who it is. He has been publicly working with Giuliani, who is not named in the report.

“We assess that President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former U.S. Vice President, supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November,” the first line of the document states, according to the sources.

Rogin writes that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Treasury Department have identified Derkach as a Russian agent. But it has not been made public that the CIA, NSA, and FBI may think that Putin is overseeing the election interference effort. Derkach has denied working on behalf of Moscow, according to the newspaper.

Derkach was sanctioned by the Treasury Department earlier this month on claims he “has been an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Sept. 10 statement that “Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world.” The Treasury Department stated Derkach “waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., told The Washington Post he isn’t surprised that intelligence agencies have determined that Putin is trying to help Trump’s campaign. He said the findings need to be released to the public.

“What’s most infuriating is that the administration seems to be doing everything it can to hide the facts from Congress and the American people,” he told the newspaper. “The president seems to be trying to turn the entire executive branch into an arm of his reelection campaign, dangerously politicizing foreign policy and intelligence.”

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