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Post reporters share the inside story of how Obama let Russia go largely unpunished for its election interference

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Post reporters share the inside story of how Obama let Russia go largely unpunished for its election interference

The Washington Post’s revelations center on a critical piece of evidence that led U.S. intelligence agencies to conclude Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the campaign to damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

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Post reporters share the inside story of how Obama let Russia go largely unpunished for its election interference

The Washington Post’s revelations center on a critical piece of evidence that led U.S. intelligence agencies to conclude Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the campaign to damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

Expand

The Washington Post’s revelations center on a critical piece of evidence that led U.S. intelligence agencies to conclude Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the campaign to damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

promo
LIVE

Post reporters share the inside story of how Obama let Russia go largely unpunished for its election interference

The Washington Post’s revelations center on a critical piece of evidence that led U.S. intelligence agencies to conclude Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the campaign to damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

Expand

(Video: Whitney Leaming, Osman Malik/Post; photo: AFP/Getty; illustration: Nick Kirkpatrick/Post)
ROUNDING UP THE REVELATIONS
••••••••••
Stunning intelligence
Stunning intelligence: U.S. intelligence agencies had sourcing deep inside the Russian government capturing Vladimir Putin’s direct instructions to damage Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning and help elect Donald Trump.
•••••••••
Covert retaliatory options
Covert retaliatory options: President Barack Obama set in motion a secret program that deployed “implants” in Russian networks — digital bombs that could be triggered in a retaliatory cyber-strike.
••••••••••
‘Menu’ of responses
‘Menu’ of responses: The White House debated dozens of options against Russia: economic sanctions, cyberattacks and releasing sensitive information on Putin. What was proposed was much more severe than what was eventually implemented.
••••••••••
Push for a probe
Push for a probe: Secretary of State John Kerry proposed creating a bipartisan commission to investigate Russian interference and protect future elections. Obama and senior officials killed the idea.
••••••••••
Brazen harassment
Brazen harassment: In one previously undisclosed incident last year, a Russian military helicopter dropped down to make multiple passes just over the hood of a vehicle being driven by the U.S. defense attache in northern Russia.
••••••••••
Toiling in the dark
Toiling in the dark: Lower-level officials were kept in the dark. A video feed from the Situation Room was shut off — a measure that had not happened since the run-up to the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.
••••••••••
The ‘tabledrop’
The ‘tabledrop’: Obama and his senior aides were worried any action would be depicted as political interference in an already volatile campaign.
••••••••••
Warnings to the Kremlin
Warnings to the Kremlin: Obama told Putin in China at September’s Group of 20 summit that “we knew what he was doing and [he] better stop or else,” said a senior aide who subsequently spoke with Obama.
••••••••••
Russians expelled
Russians expelled: Alleged spies expelled as part of U.S. sanctions against Russia included several who were suspected of helping the election interference operation from within the United States, officials said.
•••••••••
Russian compounds
Russian compounds: As a response to election interference, the FBI prioritized seizing the Russian compounds in Maryland and New York, which had been modified to presumably enhance their espionage capabilities.
••••••••••
Agency differences
Agency differences: Agencies were slow to endorse the conclusion that Putin wanted to damage Clinton and help elect Trump. The NSA was reluctant because some of the CIA’s most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said.
In political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century. It was a case that took almost no time to solve and was traced to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But because of the ways President Barack Obama and President Trump handled it, the Kremlin has yet to face severe consequences. Through interviews with more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials, The Post tells the inside story of how the Obama administration handled the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
‘Can He Do That?’
The Post's national security team goes inside the Obama administration's decision-making after the CIA captured Putin issuing specific orders to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
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