U.S. intel report says Putin directed cyber campaign aimed at helping Trump

Russia's President Vladimir Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow, Russia, December 31, 2016. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS (Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered "an influence campaign" in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election with the goal of undermining the democratic process and denigrating Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, a new, declassified intelligence report said on Friday.

"We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump," the report said.

"We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him," it said.

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(Reporting by Warren Strobel and Yara Bayoumy; Editing by James Dalgleish)