The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, which has ties to President Vladimir Putin, gave top Russian officials a framework for how to influence the U.S. election, current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.
The report said the think tank produced two documents. The first was released to the upper reaches of the Russian government, the report said.
The document reportedly said the Kremlin should launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian-backed news that stressed the point that the smart choice for president would be a candidate with a softer approach to Moscow.
The classified document called for state-backed news outlets to get the message out, the report said.
The think tank’s opinion on the approach apparently shifted by October, when Hillary Clinton appeared to be gaining distance on Trump. The second document said it would be best to increase its message on voter fraud and to attack Clinton’s reputation.
These documents were acquired by U.S. intelligence officials and were the basis of what led U.S. officials to blame Russia for meddling, the report said.
“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” according to one former senior U.S. intelligence official.
The think tank dismissed the report as incorrect, telling The Tass Russian News Agency "the number of slanderous remarks against Russia has been growing recently but those making such remarks wrongly perceive the world."
Putin has also denied interfering in the U.S. election.