President Donald Trump had been shown classified evidence showing the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election two weeks prior to his inauguration, according to a new report in the New York Times.

On Jan. 6, 2017, Trump met with top U.S intelligence personnel and was briefed on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in the cyberattacks as confirmed by several confidential sources. Trump was also shown highly classified evidence including incriminating texts and emails from Russian military officers obtained by a source close to Putin. 


Other evidence covered also pointed towards Russia’s involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the run up to the election. According to top personnel, the British, Dutch and American intelligence services had all discovered a number of emails stolen from the DNC in Russian military intelligence networks. This in part led intelligence agencies to conclude “with high confidence” that the stolen emails were later released by Russia’s intelligence agency, known as the G.R.U.


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Trump was also told that these associated Russian agencies had already risked ejection from the White House system once before. Years prior, they had allegedly been involved in cyberattacks on the State Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and White House unclassified email systems.


According to a number of sources present at the meeting, Trump was “grudgingly convinced” by the evidence presented.

But, the president has since been unclear about his stance on the election with regard to Russia’s interference. During the recent Helsinki Summit, Trump stated that he didn’t “see any reason why it would be” Russia who hacked the election, only to later walk back on his comments and claim he did in fact accept the U.S’ findings of Russian interference. He still attempted to shift the blame however, maintaining that it “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

According to one of Trump’s closest aides, the tangled situation all boils down to a matter of legitimacy. The source told the Times that the president was afraid to admit Russia’s involvement because any evidence of even an unsuccessful Russian attempt to influence the vote would raise questions about his legitimacy as president.

In the past, Trump has repeatedly referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into potential Russian interference as a “witch hunt.” And even when conceding that Russia did interfere in the election, he continued to insist that “Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election.”

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