Vladimir Putin Personally Directed Elements of Russian Hacks

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin / AP

Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the Russian cyber attacks against U.S. political networks to influence the presidential election, senior intelligence officials told NBC News.

Intelligence officials believe with a "high level of confidence" that Putin directed how hacked material stolen from Democratic systems would be leaked as part of a "vendetta" against Hillary Clinton.

The Russian president also used the breaches to sow doubt about the United States 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," according to an official.

The CIA concluded last week that Russian hackers had interfered in the U.S. election process to help elect President-elect Donald Trump. The FBI has yet to back the assessment that the breaches were meant to tip the election toward Trump, citing a lack of definitive evidence.

Trump called the claims "ridiculous," and has maintained there is "no evidence" linking Moscow to the hacks despite all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies attributing the election-related breaches to Russia.

Republican lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have broken with Trump in calling for a congressional review of the breaches. Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday the committee would launch a new probe into Russia's involvement.

The week before, President Obama directed his intelligence agencies to compile a report on the impact of the cyber attacks before he leaves office next month.