A former US ambassador to Russia has said that alleged state-sponsored hacking during the recent election was motivated by Russian president Vladimir Putin wanting "revenge" on Hillary Clinton. Michael McFaul served as America's leading diplomat to Russia from 2012 to 2014 but was banned from entering the country in November 2016.
US intelligence agencies concluded last week that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Reports said that the CIA identified individuals with links to the Kremlin who hacked the Democratic National Committee emails and leaked them to Wikileaks.
Trump's transition team attacked the intelligence agencies, saying: "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction" and that it was "time to move on" from the election.
During an interview on NBC's Meet The Press, McFaul said Putin would be motivated to interfere in the election as he believes Clinton interfered in an earlier Russian election: "Vladimir Putin thinks that she intervened in his election, the parliamentary election in December 2011. [He] has said as much publicly and I've heard him talk about it privately."
He also said that Putin wanted a Trump presidency as the two men share policy positions: "President-elect Trump supports a lot of foreign policy positions that Vladimir Putin supports."
On 9 December, President Barack Obama ordered a "full review" by intelligence agencies into allegations that hackers tampered with voting machines and were able to influence the election's outcome.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump himself rejected the reports, calling them "ridiculous" and "just another excuse". One of his leading aides then echoed his criticism, saying that the idea Russia interfered was "laughable and ridiculous".
His senior aide, Kellyanne Conway, also added that the president-elect would allow a congressional investigation but that he had made his views "very clear".