Politics

Obama Orders Review Of Russian Role In U.S. Elections

| by Robert Fowler

President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. intelligence community to review Russian cyber interference in American elections going back to 2008.

On Dec. 9, White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco revealed that President Obama ordered an investigation into the extent of Russian intelligence tampering with U.S. elections through cyber espionage, CNN reports.

"The President has directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process..." Monaco said. "...This is consistent with the work that we did over the summer to engage Congress on the threats that we were seeing."

The White House adviser noted that the Obama administration would be careful with how much they would declassify of the review's findings, despite Democratic lawmakers' calls for the president to make all of the intelligence communities findings on Russian influence on the election public.

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova released a statement expressing skepticism that the review would produce any incriminating evidence.

"We are also very interested in understanding what they accused Russia of," Zakharova said.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, urged the Obama administration to "take steps to respond forcefully to this blatant cyber meddling." 

"If we do not, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the near future," Schiff added.

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In October, the U.S. intelligence community announced its confidence that the Russian government had committed a series of hacks into U.S. political organizations to tamper with the presidential election. The majority of the cyber intrusions were committed against the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

President-elect Donald Trump has been a vocal skeptic of the U.S. intelligence community's consensus that the Russian government made a concerted effort to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

"I don't believe they interfered…" Trump told TIME on Dec. 7. "...It could be some guy in his home in New Jersey. I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people."

Despite Trump's skepticism, two top GOP senators have also proposed a probe into Russian cyberattacks. The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have both vocally accused Russia of attempting to subvert the 2016 presidential election, The Washington Post reports.

McCain has said he agrees with the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia inserted itself into the election, deeming the accusations "very worthy of examination."

"I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay the price," Graham said.

The Obama administration's review of Russian cyber espionage will investigate U.S. presidential elections dating back to 2008. The full report is slated to be completed and delivered to President Obama before Jan. 20, shortly before President-elect Trump takes the oath of office.

Sources: CNN, TIMEThe Washington Post / Photo Credit: Erik Drost/Flickr

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