Leaked documents appear to confirm a Russian plot to support Trump in 2016, Guardian report says

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Leaked documents appear to confirm a Russian plot to support Trump in 2016, Guardian report says
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. Chris McGrath/Getty Images
  • Russia's Vladimir Putin approved a plan to help Trump win the 2016 election, The Guardian reported Thursday.
  • It cited papers said to be leaked from the Kremlin, which experts said appear genuine.
  • They lay out the chaos officials expected to follow a Trump win, weakening Russia's greatest rival.

Documents purporting to record a top-level Kremlin meeting show that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved an operation to help Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016, The Guardian reported.

The documents are said to be from a Kremlin meeting on January 22, 2016, a time when Trump was defeating challengers and whipping up outrage on his path to be named Republican Party presidential candidate.

The Guardian said it took steps to verify the documents. Experts told the outlet they appeared genuine, and its contents appear to correlate with other verifiable events.

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Per the documents, Putin and top military and security officials were at the meeting. Public accounts describe the meeting as concerning events in Moldova, but the Guardian says its real subject was the US.

According to the documents, Putin approved an audacious plan by top officials to use "all possible force" to tip the balance of the election towards a Trump victory.

The documents contain a psychological profile of Trump, describing him as "impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex."

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According to the papers, Russian officials believed that a Trump victory would cause internal turmoil in the US and weaken the US on the world stage.

It outlines US vulnerabilities including "deepening political gulf between left and right", as well as growing anti-establishment feeling under the Obama administration.

"It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his [Trump's] election to the post of US president," the paper says.

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According to the publication western intelligence agencies are aware of the documents.

Trump in a statement posted on Twitter by his spokesperson, Liz Harrington, rejected the report as "disgusting" and "fake news."

"It's just the Radical Left crazies doing whatever they can to demean everybody on the right," said Trump.

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"It's fiction, and nobody was tougher on Russia than me, including on the pipeline, and sanctions. At the same time we got along with Russia. Russia respected us, China respected us, Iran respected us, North Korea respected us."

The plan was said to have been drawn up in response to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, punishment for Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014. Russia is said to have justified the election-meddling plan on national security grounds.

Multiple US intelligence agencies and congressional reports have concluded that Russia embarked on an ambitious campaign to help Trump win in 2016, leaking hacked DNC documents and spreading disinformation on social media.

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Trump during his time in office repeatedly sought to downplay the Russian interference campaign.

The 2019 report by Robert Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to charge the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia in 2016, though it did find multiple occasions where Trump officials welcomed Russian help.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in remarks to the Guardian described the report as "pulp fiction." Putin has for years denied that Russia interferes in US elections.

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