UPDATED 12/15/16 11:30 a.m. ET:
On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said that, even before Election Day, president-elect Donald Trump "was obviously aware" that Russia was behind the hacks targeting Democrats during the campaign, according to The Hill.
Earnest told reporters: "There’s ample evidence that was known long before the election and in most cases long before October about the Trump campaign and Russia — everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent. It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he had available to him, that Russia was involved and their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent’s campaign."
See original post from 12/14/16 below.
Senior intelligence officials say Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved with U.S. election hacks meant to help Donald Trump win the election. Meanwhile, Trump has dismissed the U.S. intelligence findings about Russia’s involvement, and Republicans are warming up to Putin, Russia, and Wikileaks.
Two senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that the intelligence community had a “high level of confidence" Putin was personally involved with the hacks. Evidence showed Putin directed how information hacked from Democrats was used. The officials said the evidence came from “diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies.”
The sources said Putin and Russia’s interference in the election began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton, and then moved on to an attempt to paint U.S. politics as corrupt. Putin reportedly also intended to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore."
Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, confirmed Putin’s vendetta against Clinton. "He has had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, that has been known for a long time because of what she said about his elections back in the parliamentary elections of 2011,” said McFaul. “He wants to discredit American democracy and make us weaker in terms of leading the liberal democratic order. And most certainly he likes President-elect Trump's views on Russia."
Putin’s direct involvement was already suspected in October (when President Obama accused Russia of hacking the election) when 17 intelligence agencies reportedly signed a statement that found Russia responsible for the Democratic National Committee hack. That statement said "only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities."