The director of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has officially confirmed that Russian intelligence had deliberately hacked into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to impact the 2016 presidential election.
On Nov. 15, Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the NSA, dismissed assertions made by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that the DNC emails his website had leaked throughout the fall did not come from Russian intelligence, The Hill reports.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Rogers said during a panel at the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit. “This was not something that was done casually. This was not something done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily.”
Rogers asserted that the DNC emails had been hacked by Russian intelligence in order to damage the election prospects of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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“This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect,” Rogers said.
The NSA director added that the Obama administration's job going forward was to improve cybersecurity in order to blunt Russian attempts to hack into U.S. organizations.
“We’re trying to make life harder for hackers,” Rogers said “Quite frankly, we’re trying to harden systems. We’re trying to increase knowledge, we’re trying to increase capabilities in the private sector and the government, we’re trying to engage with a host of nation-states around the world who are engaging with them in terms of what is acceptable and what is not.”
Throughout his 2016 campaign, President-elect Donald Trump had dismissed the official U.S. intelligence stance that Russia was attempting to influence the election.
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On Nov. 9, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed that his government had been in contact with the Trump campaign throughout the presidential race, The Washington Post reports.
“There were contacts,” Ryabkov said. “Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage.”
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied the remarks, stating that the campaign had “no contact with Russian officials.”
On Nov. 15, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called for a Senate investigation into the degree that Russian officials had intervened in the 2016 presidential election, The Huffington Post reports.
“Assuming for a moment that we do believe that the Russian government was controlling outside organizations that hacked into our election, they should be punished,” Graham said. “Putin should be punished.”
The South Carolina senator added that Republicans cannot “let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our cause.”