Huntsman Believes Russia Interfered With US Election

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U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former FBI Director James Comey, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller are convinced Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election that resulted in a win for President Donald Trump. Now, his most recent pick for Russian ambassador, former Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, says he agrees.

The statement came during Huntsman's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reports The Hill.

“There is no question that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year,” Huntsman said. “Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies.”

Those allies include Germany and France, which have confirmed their elections have been interfered with by Russia. Britain states its most recent election was free of any intervention, reports U.S. News & World Report.

"We have systems in place to defend against electoral fraud at all levels and have seen no successful cyber intervention in U.K. democratic processes," a spokesman for Britain's National Cyber Security Centre said in a written statement to U.S. News & World Report.

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The interference in the election has been a focus of media outlets since the election results came in and continues to be a point Trump refuses to accept. When Trump asked Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit about the issue, Putin denied the accusation. The Associated Press reported Putin stated that he feels Trump believed his denial, according to The Hill.

"They're doing this across multiple continents, and they're doing this in a way that they're trying to cause chaos within the countries," Haley told CNN's Dana Bash in a pre-recorded interview for "State of the Union."

It isn't only the election day results that risk manipulation, but also the electronic systems the government uses to store its data and transmit messages. 

In April and May 2015, the German federal legislature, the Bundestag, was infiltrated by hackers over several weeks. A network that includes more than 5,600 computers and 12,000 registered users -- including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her staff -- were infected with malware, and 16 gigabytes of data were stolen. The attack was so severe the entire Bundestag network had to be taken offline for four days, reported Brookings.

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“The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle," Comey explained during questioning by Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, reports The Sacramento Bee. "They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active-measures campaign driven from the top of that government.”

Huntsman said he would raise the issue of election meddling in his interactions with Russian officials if he is confirmed as ambassador.

“I will also not hesitate to remind government officials that they are accountable for their actions,” Huntsman told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Interference in the U.S. election had led directly to the current low level of trust in the relationship."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the same of the relationship between Russia and the U.S. following his two-hour meeting with Putin in April, reports The New York Times.

This would not be Huntsman's first time as an ambassador. Under former President Barack Obama, he was U.S. ambassador to China, and under President George H.W. Bush, he was ambassador to Singapore. Huntsman also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Sources:  The Hill (2, 3), CNN,  U.S. News & World Report, The Sacramento Bee, Brookings, The New York Times / Featured Image: Diego Cambiaso/Flickr / Embedded Images: Dmitry Dzhus/Flickr, justgrimes/Flickr

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