Trump was told of Putin's US election meddling 'two weeks before inauguration'

Donald Trump was informed of the Russian government’s organized effort to influence the 2016 presidential election two weeks before his inauguration, The New York Times reported Wednesday evening.

The outlet, citing nearly a dozen people familiar with the briefing, said Trump was shown highly classified information on Jan. 6, 2017, that showed Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a series of cyberattacks meant to sway the election in his favor. The evidence included text messages and emails from Russian military officers and a source close to Putin himself.

Trump was “grudgingly convinced” by the material, the Times reported.

The report comes the same week the president, standing next to his Russian counterpart in Helsinki, rejected a similar assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies and said “we’re all to blame” for poor diplomatic relations between the two countries. He then walked back those claims amid a bipartisan uproar on Tuesday, told a reporter on Wednesday he didn’t believe Russia was still targeting the U.S. and then said on CBS later that evening Putin was only to blame “because he’s in charge of the country.”

The baffling back-and-forth-and-back-again has left lawmakers scrambling, including a growing number of Republicans who have condemned Trump and touted the assessment of American intelligence officials.

Trump caused a firestorm in Helsinki earlier this week after he rejected the assertion of U.S. intelligence agencies, who say Russia led a sophisticated campaign to influence the last presidential election.

The Times says Trump’s knowledge of the Russian effort is not new. During the meeting last year at Trump Tower, former CIA director John Brennan, former national security director James Clapper, NSA director Adm. Michael Rogers and FBI director James Comey all presented the material, describing a stream of information that left them convinced of Putin’s role.

All except for Rogers were later attacked by Trump, who accused them of being loyal to the 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

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President Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin in Finland
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND - JULY 16, 2018: The national flags of Russia and the United States seen ahead of a meeting of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND - JULY 16: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'KREMLIN PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and his wife Jenni Haukio pose for a photo during their meeting in Helsinki, Finland on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R), U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and First lady Melania Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they meet in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin react at the end of the joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
U.S. President Donald Trump receives a football from Russia's President Vladimir Putin during their joint news conference after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and First lady Melania Trump pose for a picture with a football during a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US First Lady Melania Trump, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and US President Donald Trump (L-R) after a news conference at the Presidential Palace. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump holds a football thrown to her by U.S. President Donald Trump during his joint news conference with Russia's President Vladimir Putin after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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Comey, a longtime Republican and critic of Trump, slammed the president’s statements in Finland and urged voters to elect Democrats in the November midterms, saying Monday “was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country.”

Brennan went a step further, saying Trump’s performance in Helsinki “rises to and exceeds the threshold for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’”

“It was nothing short of treasonous,” the former CIA chief said on Twitter.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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