US spies report on election hack

US spies report on election hack

General James Clapper and Senator John McCain in 2011. Source: Wikimedia

A Washington spy chief has promised to explain why Moscow appears to have meddled in November’s US presidential election.

The director of national intelligence, General James Clapper, said Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered the hack of Democratic Party emails, and the motive would be announced in the next few days.

Washington has announced targeted sanctions against Russian officials.

Donald Trump is to be briefed on the hacking on Friday.

In late December Obama’s sanctions aimed at the Kremlin’s leading spy agencies, the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, and the FSB, the successor to the Soviet KGB.

The Kremlin has denied the hacking allegations and dismissed the sanctions as an attempt to “harm Russian-American ties”.

Intelligence specialists will take Trump through their report, which has already been given to President Barack Obama with much of it to be made public next week.

Intelligence commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is investigating the alleged interference, that Russia meddled to help Trump.

“The Russians have a long history of interfering in elections, theirs and other people’s,” Clapper told the committee. “But we have never encountered such a direct campaign to interfere with the election process as we have seen in this case.”

Clapper described the Russian efforts as a “multifaceted campaign”, which featured “classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news”.

They said Russia had an advanced cyber-programme threatening a range of US interests.

“Russia is a full-scope cyber-actor that poses a major threat to US government, military, diplomatic, commercial and critical infrastructure,” the intelligence statement said.

Clapper, undersecretary of defence for intelligence Marcel Lettre and Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, prepared the briefing.

Senator John McCain reminded the hearing that it was not due to “question the outcome of the presidential election”.

But he added there was “no escaping the fact that this committee meets today for the first time in this new congress in the aftermath of an unprecedented attack on our democracy”.

There have no suggestions that voting itself was altered by Russian manipulation.

“We cannot say they did not change any vote tallies or anything of that sort,” Clapper said.

“We have no way of gauging the impact… that it had on the choices the electorate made.”



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