Vladimir Putin didn't just know about alleged Russian hacking to rig the election for Donald Trump, he personally directed it, senior intelligence sources tell NBC News, though it's not clear whether their assessment is based on new information. The officials claim that intelligence from spies and diplomatic sources directly links the Russian leader to the hacks. One high-level source says the original goal was to take down Hillary Clinton and expose corruption in American politics, but it became "an effort to split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the US to be a credible global leader anymore."
Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, tells NBC that Putin had a "vendetta "against Clinton, and claims that he oversaw the use of hacked material are "most certainly consistent with the Putin that I have watched and used to work with when I was an ambassador and in the government." Officials tell Reuters, however, that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has yet to endorse the CIA's assessment that the hacking was done with the intention of helping Donald Trump defeat Clinton. The Washington Post reports that a YouGov poll released Wednesday found that there has been a big shift in Putin support among Republicans, with his net negative rating falling from 66 points to 10 over the last two years. The poll also found a 74-point swing among the same voters in favor of WikiLeaks. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)