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instugzs like and nato diversity. in other words, vladimir putin understands us very well. the question is do we, does donald trump really understand him? the following is a cnn special report. >> the nation's bitter adversary, dangerous and deceptive. >> he meant to say it was illegitimate. the rest is history. >> their weapons insidious and unsuspected. threatening american votes and striking at the heart of democracy. >> do you think they see their interference in this election as a success? >> i do. >> a spy story in cyber space. >> we don't believe that area is
owned by -- >> that would lead right to putin's doorstep. >> and when words of warning were not nearly enough. >> i saw president putin tell him to cut it out. >> tonight a cnn special report. the russian connection inside the attack on democracy. it was an unprecedented attack on the very heart of american democracy. >> russia is directly behind a series of cyber attacks targeting the upcoming presidential election. >> and in one remarkable year catapulted russia once again to the center of american politics and american psyche on an almost
daily basis. >> i think every american should be concerned about what the russians did. >> hampering a presidency. >> i own nothing in russia. i have no loans in russia. i don't have any deals in russia. >> and undermining and even ending the careers of top presidential advisors. >> the president was very concerned that general flynn had misled the vice president and others. >> the president's first national security advisor, michael flynn, lied for lying about conversations with russia. >> you don't want your national security advisor compromised with the russians. >> i have recused myself in the matters. >> forced to recuse himself for not disclosing his own contacts with russian officials. >> i don't think anybody knows it was russia.
>> and trump himmism is repeatedly questioning the intelligence community's high confidence judgment that russia interfered with the election that brought him to the oval office. >> could also be china, could also be lots of other people. could also be someone laying on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. okay. >> and mr. trump firing his fbi director. >> i was going to fire comey. my decision. >> over a russia investigation the president simply does not trust. >> it's my judgment that i was fired because of the russia investigation. >> now a special counsel. the fbi and four separate congressional committees are pursuing investigations. how did we get here? and how did russian influence potentially reach the highest levels of the u.s. government? >> canio say when you were first made aware that russia or some
country was attempting to infiltrate u.s. political organizati organizations? >> sometimes in the summer of 2015. >> james clapper was then the director of national intelligence. the senior most intelligence official. >> was it clear to you how serious it would become? >> i don't think it was because obviously the russians have us as maybe the primary intelligence target anyway. >> the first quiet warning came september 2015 when a midlevel fbi agent notified the democratic national committee that russian hackers had compromised at least one dnc computer. >> they left a phone message at the help desk at the dnc. they didn't treat it the seriousness that it deserved. >> that was the i's first direct contact with the dnc.
a mesge leftd for a low level computer technician that did not return the bureau's call. >> i suspect if they had to do over again, they would do it differently in retrospect. >> found nothing. and the it department apparently did not share the fbi's concerns with more senior dnc staff. hackers gaining access to countless emails, communications, and documents. >> i can imagine him sitting down a couple weeks later and saying we're in. >> and as the campaign for president was already well underway. for weeks the fbi kept calling the same computer help desk number at the dnc, never reaching out to dnc leaders, and
never making the short trip in person to dnc head quarters. >> i think they would say i think you should have been a little more aggressive. >> the fbi tells cnn it made repeated attempts to alert more senior dnc staff including sharing information on how to identify breaches in their systems. by november 2015 polls show hillary clinton leading the pack of democratic contenders. >> join this effort. let's go win for america. it was now one year to election day and the fbi agent called again with more alarminging news. a dnc computer was now transmitting information back to russia. still dnc executives claim they were not made aware thoof the
threat, leaving the russians to roam free for months giving them further and further ammunition to disrupt the u.s. ammunition. >> a hostile foreign power is trying to actively engage in our electoral process, you would have thought that would have risn on the other intelligence agencies in the white house itself. >> it goes to the fundamental core of our democracy. >> president obama's national serity advisor came face to face more than once with the russian leader behind the attacks. >> it was alarming because it was ab solutely consistent with putin's intent to undermine the institutions of the west. >> russian president vladimir putin, a former kgb spy, famous for his boldness, even ruthlessness. at home, some of his opponents end up dead.
his prime target is the u.s. >> there's no doubt that vladimir putin was involved from the beginning and might have been the intellectual author and was probably eager to see are we really going to be able to pull this off? >> next, a nation brought to its knees by a massive russian cyber attack. >> people started asking what's going on? who's in charge? (burke) at farmers, we've seen almost everything
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nothing cleans better. put those on dad! it's got to be tide. april 2007. the eastern european country offast oof astonia, a neighbor of russia is rocked by violent protests after the relocation of this soviet war memorial. lillenburg was working for an astonian newspaper at the time. >> they attacked cars that were parked at road side. threw stones, bottles. >> riot police struggled to restore order.
but the chaos continued. astonia's foreign minister recalls fear. >> dozen or so cars being turned upside down and people get nervous when things like that happen. >> astonia, a tiny nation of just over one million people perched on the border with russia had not seen anything like this since it regained independence from the soviet union in 1991. witnesses quickly notice that rioters have one name, one country on their lips. >> they're shouting russia, russia which means russia. >> astonians did not for a moment believe that was an exdt. then he had only been in the job
for three weeks. you believe those protests were orchestrated? >> yes, to a certain extent. >> that kind of violent protests, this just doesn't happen in astonia. >> exactly. it's like -- i don't know. it just doesn't happen. >> so the belief was these protests were orchestrated, manufactured. >> yes. i guess that's pretty much describing term. >> the violence on the streets wasn't the worst of it. silently in cyber space an invisible army was mounting an attack. an attack that would foreshadow the term oil that would soon come to western europe and then america. >> how did you know that you were under attack? what gave you your first chance?
>> i asked what's going on? the same thing. >> you suspected the cyber assault? >> yes. that was clear that it's not back. >> while the u.s. election was a new target, russia has been waging cyber warfare for years and one of its most frequent targets was its neighbors. the 2007 attack left astonians with no news websites, no government websites. very little information. >> and people started asking what's going on? who's in charge? >> electronic banking at atm's and online, which at the time accounted for the vast majority of all transactions in astonia, was completely down. >> people were scared. and we were by then rather
intimate based society already. >> tiny astonia with its medieval walls and cobble stone stets is actually a technology power house. it was the first country to allow online voting and it's known for being the birth place of skype but now it was under one of the most crippling cyber attacks the world had ever seen. the attackers created so-called bot nets. taking over hundreds of thousands of computers to launch the attack. >> they flooded the inputs of observers. >> it's 10s and hundreds of times more than the servers could handle. >> and the assault went on for weeks. eventually astonia had to block all international traffic to stop the onslaught, disconnecting one of the most connected countries from the
world. >> they couldn't get any information from astonia. i think that was the aim actually. >> to cut you off? >> absolutely. >> so who was behind it? astonia's foreign minister at the time blamed russia, who moscow has repeatedly denied involvement. >> translator: we consider the european union under attack by russia. the attacks are psychological, virtua and real. >> now publicly assigning blame to russia, astonian officials are more careful. >> we found out these attacks were not that spontaneous. >> and did that lead you to a suspect? >> in 2007 and now 10 years later we don't have the smoking
gun. we don't have the finger prints or foot prints. but when we say most probably one of our neighbors is concerned, we -- >> and that leaves russia? >> yes. the evidence -- indirect evidence clearly shows in that direction. >> would it be reasonable to think it was anybody else but russia? would it make sense? >> after carrying out increasingly bold cyber attacks across europe, including here in astonia, russia's president vladimir putin turns the country's attention to the u.s. and the 2016 presidential election. coming up how the hackers tricked the democratic party. >> it was a reasonably realistic email. it looked fairly legitimate. >> and the trail of evidence
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fury. >> who wants hillary? who wants trump? >> more and more of it about russia. >> if mr. trump gets his way, it will be like christmas in the kremlin. >> by now russian hackers had penetrated the democratic national committee for months and were setting their sites on new targets, using the crudest of cyber weapons, so-called spear fishing emails. >> multiple individuals were targeted with spear fishing emails that resembled google warnings. >> the director for intelligence analysis at the cyber security firm. >> they clicked on those thinking they were security warnings and basically transported them toa place where their adversary could collect them and reuse them to gain
access to their accounts. it was a reasonably realistic email. it looked fairly legitimate. >> a prime target was the chairman of hillary clinton's campaign, john pudestau. >> it changed the password. >> this seemingly be9 message was actually a spear fishing email. it warned someone just used your password and prompted him to change his password immediately by clicking on a link. it was signed innocuously, best the g mail team. >> it actually got managed by my assistant that checked with my cyber security guy and through a comedy of errors, i guess, he instructed her to click on it and she did. >> the fatal error, padesta's it person wrote back saying
legitimate. >> he meant to say it's illegitimate. the rest is history. >> one typo, one click and they the rushzs gained free rain for the man running the clinton campaign. >> pretty simple. it was not high level stuff. >> that is one of the frustrations, i think for all cyber security experts. >> russia had now successfully breached two democratic party computer systems. that of the clinton campaign and the democratic national committee. >> we were kind of blown away by the brashness that they're operating with, almost like they didn't anticipate any consequences for their actions. >> back on the campaign trail, it was looking more and more likely to be hillary clinton. >> love trumps hate verses donald trump. >> and we're going to beat
crooked hillary so badly. >> april 2016, seven months to election day, nine months since the first intrusion into the democratic national committee. the dnc's computer technician finally discovers the breach. the dnc notified the fbind hired the cyber security firm, crowd strike. crowd strike's forensic work quickly identified two culprits. both linked to russia. one dubbed fancy bear, the other cozy bear. familiar foes for cyber security experts. >> long before any of this transpired around the election, we've known them for many years. there's a lot of evidence this actor is russian or russian speaker. >> some of it surprisingly simple such as time stamp showing that hackers were starting and finishing their
work days on moscow time. >> the mistake they made was leaving these time stamps. you get a picture of what actual hours this operator is working and what they come down to is work schedule that fits right in with western russia's time zone. >> that means computer code written in the russian alphabet. they did not letdown their guard for new intrusions and by the summer of 2016 they detected fancy bear sniffing out more pray. >> it's really exciting to catch these guys in the act. >> they had infiltrated act blue. >> they went from a donation system to a server that they owned. >> this is the website of the d
triple c on july 19th, 2016. if you right click and go to view page source, it will bring you the html source. in this case what was interesting is that normally here -- this is a hyperlink. in this case it goes to secure dot app blues with an s. >> that had nothing to do with the democrats and appeared to be a russian cover. >> the it second i saw there were emails flying everywhere, including the to the targeted organization, we wanted to give them a heads up. >> it was one more brazen intrusion into the political process. >> we have high confidence this is a russian intelligence organization. we've seen so many artifacts, forensic and otherwise that suggest this actor is carrying
out russian intelligence missions. >> next what would russia do with the 10s of thousands of emails they found inside democratic party organizations? >> they were looking to weaponize. >> president trump egged them on. air smoother. get super fruit moroccan argan oil with fructis sleek & shine. hair is super sleek, for up to 3 days. no parabens. garnier fructis sleek & shine. super fruit. super hair. garnier. [woman] we did it. [man] we're campers. look at us. look at us. it's so nice to get out of the city. it's so... quiet. is it, too quiet? it's awful. yeah. feel at home, pretty much wherever you are.
hackers allegedly connected to the russian government break into the servers of the -- >> june 2016. >> donald trump is not qualified to be president and commander in chief. >> five months to election day. >> russian hackers manage to infiltrate. >> and the world is getting the fist hint of the deluge of stolen emails and documents to come. >> it's a deep breach. >> a mysterious blogger or bloggers nicknamed gooseefer 2.0 began posting the first set of stolen documents. >> they love putting on these false personas and carrying out operations through them. >> so what was russia going to do with all the stolen information? steven hull is the cia's former
station chief. >> given my background into the russian intelligence officer. and so i can imagine these guys saying can you imagine they're pulling together an influence operation. somebody said why not. let's give it a shot. >> goosefer took its first shot within days of the story breaking. releasing batches of materials not just from the democratic national committee, but from the hillary clinton campaign and the democratic congressional campaign committee. all had been infiltrated by russian hackers. >> it's the russian services taking the goal, making something out of it that in turn can be used against their adversaries and we continue to be their primary enemy. >> he would soon be joined by other rogue publishers. such as wikileaks.
site founded by jian asauchg. >> you want somebody like i don't know, wikileaks. >> and on july 22nd, wikileaks said they would release more than 19,000 emails from the democratic national committee. >> so in effect you have electronic evidence of a middle man between russia and wikileaks. >> we were pretty high in our confidence. i'll put it that way. >> wikileaks continues to deny receiving the hacked documents from russia. just three days before the start of the democratic national convention, it would suggest that top leaders were biassed in favor of hillary clinton and against bernie sanders for the party's nomination.
>> all right everybody now. settle down. >> the chair of the dnc was forced to resign. the first skoucout of russia's influence operation and the press quickly shifted focus ords the controversy. >> is there any direct reaction coming from the protesters about this shake up in the dnc? >> a delighted donald trump tweeted "the new joke in town is that russia leaked the disastrous dnc emails which never should have been written, stupid, because putin likes me." and now he took the alarming step of egging the russians on to hack hillary clinton's private email server. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. >> trump was not alone in his
circle celebrating the russian hacks. one supporter in particular, the long-time conspiracy theorist, roger stone hinted he had advanced knowledge of the releases, raising question fraz the first time of possible collusion. >> i have communicated. i believe the documents pertain to the clinton foundation but there's no telling what the october surprise may be. >> in october roger stone once again steamed to signal advanced knowledge of wikileaks plans tweeting quote wednesday, hillary clinton is done. #wikileaks. >> there seems to be some contact between forces closely associate would the trump campaign and wikileaks. it certainly seemed like an
interesting coincidence. >> later he denied speaking with assange directly or colluding with the russians. and vladimir putin laughed at the idea of russian involvement in an issue of the bloomberg news. >> no, i don't know anything about that. >> i did have a very visceral feeling in the pit of my stomach that i thought this was a really serious thing. an assault on the very heart of our democracy and that's one of the reasons i felt so strongly about putting out the statement we did in october. >> on october 7th, one month and one day before the election, u.s. intelligence agencies publicly named and shamed russia. their statement read quote the u.s. intelligence community is confident that they directed the recent compromises of emails
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john padesta, chair of the hillary clinton campaign will never forget october 7th, 2016. >> early in the morning the director of homeland security and the director of national intelligence released a statement that the russians were actively interfering in the election. later in the day the access hollywood tape came out. >> she was married. >> and of course everyone's attention turned to what donald trump had been saying to billy bush on that bus. >> i'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- it's like a magnet. >> a break for the clinton campaign. that is until just moments later. >> within minutes. i think 23 minutes later the first of the emails was posted
to wikileaks with a post saying we have the contents of his email system and we're going to release them all. >> that is the entire contents of john padesta's entire account, totaling -- once again the source of the trove was wikileaks. and they suspected the release had been timed for maximum impact. >> do you have any doubt those two events that day, the access hollywood tape and the release soon after of your emails -- >> it's a pretty massive coincidence they would choose to pull the trigger on a friday evening when they'd been sitting on it for a while. >> no, i have nothing to say about wikileaks other than i think we should all be concerned about what the rushzs are trying to do to our election. >> that was just the first of
many. >> it is russia behind these hacks. >> a brand new batch of emails released bywikileaks. >> and they quickly became a dominant story line of the campaign. >> russians are pretty intense observers of what goes on in this country and try to both collect information on it and as we saw where they can, exploit it. >> russia's exploitation would expand to new targets. a long -time hillary clinton confident was on her transition team. >> i think i saw the name on one of the tvs. >> the internal and sometimes critical comments on the campaign revealed to the world. in one email conversation,
tannen says quote hillary, god, her instincts are suboptimal. on the campaign trail, donald trump eagerly attempted to take advantage of the stolen emai quoting them or attempting to in the third presidential debate. >> now john padesta said you have terrible instincts, bernie sanders said you have bad judgment. i agree with both. >> i still remember watching the tv and wanting to put my head under pillow. >> the releases of the stolen emails continue right up to and even beyond election day. >> they were getting dumped day in and day out and every morning i basically woke up with dread for what's next.
>> inside the white house sometimes bitter debate was unfolding. some senior advisors rksz pushed for a more robust response, including stiffer economic sanctions. but abroad the president feared escalation with russia and at home charged with infleweneinf w inflewfluencing the election. >> at time when anything said by me or anybody in the white house would be seen through a partisan lens. i wanted to make sure everybody understood we were playing this thing straight. >> as the election approached, the greatest fear was that russia would disrupt actual voting systems. so great that president obama warned president putin face to face. >> i felt the most effective way
to insure that didn't happen was to tell him directly and cut it out or there would be serious conconsequences if he didn't. >> later obama made use of a secure direct messaging system to the kremlin. this time to warn punt again. >> all right. cnn projects that donald trump will carry the state of north carolina and the state of florida. cnn projects donald trump wins the presidency. >> how damaging was this to the clinton campaign? >> look, it was our job to win and we didn't do it. what went into that. a lot of things. and we bare our own sense of responsibility for that. but it was an important element of electing donald trump and i think russians got what they
paid for. >> after election day was growing, the obama administration finally retaliated. closing russian compounds believed to be used for spying. expelling some 35 russian diplomats and imposing more sanctions on russia. he considered taking more aggressive steps, includinging initiating a plan to place cyber weapons insistms. for potential activation if russia were to attack again. next was president trump also in russia's cross hairs? the emergence of a mysterious dossier. >> we thought it was important that he know about it. thanks for the ride around norfolk! and i just wanted to say, geico is proud to have served the military for over 75 years!
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presidential election. >> why the level of confidence there? >> i'll just say it was multiple sources. and that all of us, the three agency heads and myself, were very high in our confidence that the direction and orchestration of this came from the highest levels of the russian government. >> what is your u.s. intelligence community's understanding of russia? >> it's not perfect but it's good. >> so good, in fact, as first reported by the "washington post," that the u.s. had sourcing deep inside the russian government. detailing putin's direct involvement. >> you would have been russian policy officers saying this is a chance to strike at one of the founding notions. one the of underpartnershipings of liberal democracy which is our number one enemy of the world. >> and multiple sources say the
u.s. spy agencies went further determining again with confidence the kremlin had a more ambitious aim. discrediting hillary clinton and helping donald trump. >> i think it is pretty clear, if there was a prospect that he might win, that clearly wanted to influence the election in favor of him because they thought they could make deals with him. >> one compelling reason for that judgment is that russia had also hacked into the e-mails and files of republican party organizations and individuals. including members of congress. but crucially did not release the bulk of that information. >> do you think they see their interference in this election as a success? >> i do. no way to gauge whether from the intelligence community's perspective, but i feel sure they consider it a success.
>> russian officials repeatedly and vehemently denied any interference in the u.s. election. until earlier this month, seven months after election day. president putin for the first time opened the door to russian involvement. >> tnslator: hackers are free spirited people. if they are imdly minded they make their own contribution to what they belief is the good fight against those who speak badly about russia. is that possible? theoretically, it's possible. >> it was a starting and frank revelation. still more alarming questions remain unanswered today. most prominent among them, did russia have help from anyone inside the trump campaign? the possibility of collusion remains a subject of congressional and now special
counsel investigations. >> do you stand by your testimony that there is an active investigation, counter intelligence investigation, regarding trump campaign individuals and the russian government as to whether or not they collaborated? >> to see if there was any coordination between the russian effort -- >> right. is that still going on? >> yes. >> so nothing has changed. you stand by those would statements. >> correct. >> another continuing question for investigators, does russia hold information that could be damaging to donald trump if made public? the collection of such compromising material in russian is standard operating procedure for spy services. >> it is almost impossible to believe they wouldn't have collected on donald trump. he would have been a really rich guy who might come in handy at some point if you need him down the road.
the easiest way to make people more malleable is if you have some dirt on them. >> russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about mr. trump. >> this information was provided as part of last week's classified intelligence briefings. >> the nation's senior most intelligence officials took possibility of potentially compromising information seriously enough to brief both then president-elect donald trump and then president obama on the existence of a dossier compiled by a former british intelligence agent and funded by trump's political points. news first reported by cnn. in conversations described in the dossier, russian that's the will and others claim to have personally and financially compromising information on trump. >> can you tell us your thinking as to why you iluded a summary of the now famous dossier on the president-elect and the present? >> well, we thought that it was
important that he know about it. that was the main point. not to comment on the veracity. >> so what happens the next time americans vote? lawmakers of both parties and the senior most intelligence officials are unanimous in their answer. russia will strike american democracy again. >> it is not about republicans and democrats. they're coming after america. they want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world and they'll be back. we remain the shining city on a hill and they don't like it. >> is there any reason to believe russia is not right now today he continuing to attempt to, or to infiltrate u.s. political organizations? >> i'm quite sure they are. i think it is in their dna, during the soviet era or now. >> a return to the cold war, this time in cyberspace with. a direct and ongoing threat tow
american democracy, even the soviets never matched. this is happening now, if you can possibly believe that. >> the terrorists are saying they'll blow up the school, killing all the children inside. >> the german police have been waging a relentless war against the terrorists, capturing some, killing some. >> the army are the terrorists. >> no one, even the most powerful, has immunity from these urban guerillas. >> there are 298 people held hostage. >> those people, they have good ideals. they're just going about them the wrong way. >> we are ready to go on into martyrdom. >> the communique ended with the appeal revolutionaries of the world unite. ♪