We need to be skeptical about this report. The origin of this story, the NYT, is a reputable source, but fake news sources are becoming quite sophisticated at setting up phony corroboration for their propaganda in order to dupe honest journalists.
First off, I don’t put it past the Russians to do this, they’ve done much worse. Likewise, I don’t put it past Trump to lie about it, he lies about everything, even when he has nothing to gain by it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean this story is necessarily true, either.
A lot of people have enough to gain from this report to make it worth their while to fabricate it. Anti-Trump forces, are, of course, the prime suspects, but even pro-Trump groups can benefit greatly when later on it is “proven” to be false. Even the Russians could be trying to pull off some sort of elaborate triple cross. And of course, the Russians benefit by anything which causes chaos and confusion in the US; the fact it might make them look bad too only helps them conceal their part in the deception. It is all part of a playbook intelligence agencies have been perfecting for centuries.
In the past, fake news like this has often originated from players who have no political agenda at all, they are just in it for the money and they are just as likely to lie to help one side as they are to aid its opponents. And it is always possible that perhaps Trump and his agents are perfectly aware of this action but are feigning ignorance and cluelessness while they devise their revenge against the Russians. It never pays to reveal everything you know, and making your enemies complacent by pretending to be stupid is a time-honored tactic. Likewise, it is possible this story is true, but is not a Putin plot, but a rogue operation by his agents and paramilitary allies, or even some third party trying to hurt us AND the Russkies. Hmmm, can you say “China”?
In short, I’ve decided to wait and see on this one. It smells to high heaven because, for me at least, its just too good to be true.