- A CIA report has found that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “probably” personally involved in a Russian bid to smear Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, sources told The Washington Post.
- The report singles out Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who has worked with Rudy Giuliani, as having played a key role in spreading Biden disinformation as a Russian agent, The Post said.
- Trump has repeatedly downplayed Russian attempts to subvert US democracy.
- This report marks the first time Putin has been identified by US intelligence as being potentially personally involved in the 2020 US election.
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A top-secret CIA report has found that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top aides are likely personally conducting a campaign to smear Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and influence the 2020 election, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin reported, citing two sources who have reviewed the intelligence.
The highly-classified report, named the “CIA Worldwide Intelligence Review,” was completed on August 31 and contains intelligence from sources including the National Security Agency and the FBI, according to The Post.
“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 US Vice President, supporting the US president and fueling public discord ahead of the US election in November,” the first line of the document says, according to The Post’s sources.
According to Rogin’s sources, the report details the activities of Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who has spread disinformation about Biden through the GOP, US media outlets, and sources close to President Donald Trump.
Derkach’s efforts include releasing edited audio recordings that purport to show Biden’s conversations with Ukrainian officials while serving as vice president, according to The Atlantic.
Last week the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions imposed on Derkach, whom it designated an “active Russian agent” who was actively seeking to undermine Biden and interfere in the US election.
Derkach denied the allegations in a statement to Politico.
Derkach has worked with the president’s personal attorney and former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani, in the attempt to smear Biden.
Giuliani has met repeatedly with Derkach, including on a trip to Ukraine in 2019. Derkach has claimed, without citing evidence, that Biden was involved in corruption in Ukraine — claims Giuliani has repeated.
According to The Post, the CIA report refers to a “prominent” contact in the Trump campaign who was in contact with Derkach, but does not name Giuliani.
Giuliani last week sought to distance himself from Derkach following the Treasury sanctions, telling NPR in a text message: “I never tried to influence the election, and my work with him was over months ago well before the election.”
Business Insider has contacted Giuliani for further comment.
The Post’s report on the CIA findings follows repeated warnings from US intelligence agencies and social media companies that Russia is involved in a renewed bid to interfere in the presidential election.
Trump and top administration officials, meanwhile, have sought to downplay the seriousness of Russian attempts to subvert the election.
Earlier this month, a former senior Homeland Security officer alleged in a whistleblower complaint that analysts were told by Trump officials to alter intelligence on Russian election interference attempts because it “made the President look bad.”
During the 2016 election, the CIA also found that Putin was personally involved in the 2016 campaign to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and help elect Trump. Then-President Barack Obama was reportedly briefed on the issue in August 2016.