British intelligence services reportedly provided a major tip-off to the United States in 2015 about cyber operations to interfere in the November presidential election.
The UK’s involvement came to light after the US intelligence community published an unclassified version of a report that accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering a multi-pronged operation to influence the election.
In their report released on Friday, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) concluded that the Russian government “sought to help” Republican Donald Trump by hacking various Democratic Party organizations and operatives as well as running a smear campaign against his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Citing “two people familiar with the conclusions” of the assessment, The New York Times reported that British intelligence was “among the first” to alert their American counterparts that Russian hackers had infiltrated the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The breach of email exchanges among senior Democrats was spotted from voice intercepts, computer traffic and agents outside the US as emails and other data from the DNC flowed toward Moscow.
British officials were as concerned as their US counterparts over the extent of contacts between Trump aides and Moscow and by the president-elect’s pro-Russia stance.
However, those officials are now finding themselves in an awkward position as the government of Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to solidify ties with the incoming Trump administration, in part to compensate for the UK’s divorce from the European Union, according to The Guardian.
Trump downplayed Russia’s role in the election after he was briefed on the issue by senior intelligence officials on Friday afternoon, saying any attempt to hack Democratic groups had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”
The president-elect also tweeted Saturday that Democrats were making a lot of “noise” about Russia’s alleged campaign because they were “embarrassed” by the election results.