Russian President Vladimir Putin shares a joke with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (AFP Photo/Pool)
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U.S. intelligence officials said that they intercepted messages of celebration and jubilation among Russian officials when it was announced that President-elect Donald Trump won the election.
The members of the intel community used this as evidence of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
In a Thursday night report, the Washington Post quoted a senior official characterizing the happiness in a manner implying that Russians helped secure the victory for Trump:
The Russians felt pretty good about what happened on Nov. 8 and they also felt pretty good about what they did.
President-elect Trump has vehemently denied any Russian hacking occurred at all during the election and has actively undermined contrary assessments by the U.S. intelligence community:
Officials cited other evidence in the trail leading to Russian involvement:
Other key pieces of information gathered by U.S. spy agencies include the identification of “actors” involved in delivering stolen Democratic emails to the WikiLeaks website, and disparities in the levels of effort Russian intelligence entities devoted to penetrating and exploiting sensitive information stored on Democratic and Republican campaign networks.
However, they stopped short of saying this is conclusive evidence and instead said that these are "strong indicators" of Moscow's preference for a Trump victory.
Trump's surrogates argued during the election that it was more likely Putin would prefer Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, given his history of manipulating President Barack Obama and Clinton, who served as Obama's secretary of state.
The classified report is said to be more than 50 pages and has already been delivered to Obama, with another version set to be released to the public next week.
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Carlos Garcia is a staff writer for Blaze News.