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FSB - Hacking Trump's Opponents

By December 2016 US intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia interfered in the final stretch of the presidential campaign to help Trump win the presidency, and not simply meddle in the US electoral process as previously believed, according to senior administration officials. The conclusion is based to some extent on a finding that Russians hacked the Republican National Committee's computer systems, in addition to those of Democratic organizations, but leaked material only from the Democrats' on WikiLeaks.

“We now have high confidence that they hacked the DNC and the RNC and conspicuously released no documents” from the RNC, an unnamed senior Obama administration official speaking about the Russians, told The New York Times. The Times reports that individual Russians whom U.S. intelligence officials say are responsible for the cyberattacks have been identified, but none has been punished. The Washington Post reported the CIA believes Russia intervened in the election to help Trump win. In a story posted on the newspaper’s website Friday evening, The Post quotes an anonymous official who says the goal of the interference “was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected.”

The Post article said the White House had known about Russia’s interference for months, but could not decide how to best respond before the presidential election without “escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Clinton’s campaign.” The Post said, “The reluctance of the Obama White House to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions before Election Day upset Democrats on the Hill as well as members of the Clinton campaign.” The newspaper said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, doubted “the veracity of the intelligence” gathered about Russia’s interference and told the Obama administration that if it challenged the Russians publicly, he would see that act as partisan politics. Months later, President-elect Trump chose McConnell’s wife as his nominee for transportation secretary.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation into Russia's hacking told CNN that the US intelligence community is increasingly confident that Russian meddling in the US election was intended to steer the election toward Trump, rather than simply to undermine or in other ways disrupt the political process. US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the final stretch of the presidential campaign to help Trump win the presidency, and not simply meddle in the US electoral process as previously believed. Russians hacked the Republican National Committee's computer systems, in addition to those of Democratic organizations, but disclosed only embarrassing emails from the Democrats, via WikiLeaks.

“The FBI had this material for a long time but Comey, who is of course a Republican, refused to divulge specific information about Russia and the presidental election,” Reid told MSNBC on 10 December 2016. “Everyone should know WikiLeaks was involved from the very beginning,” Reid continued. “They leaked the information as if it was run by one of the great political operatives in America when in fact it was run by the political operatives in Russia. “Russia has a pretty good way of cheating. Look at what they did with athletes”.

“I am so disappointed in Comey. He has let the country down for partisan purposes and that’s why I call him the new J Edgar Hoover, because I believe that,” Reid added, calling for the director’s resignation. “I think he should be investigated by the Senate. He should be investigated by other agencies of the government including the security agencies because if ever there was a matter of security it’s this … I don’t think any of us understood how partisan Comey was.”

Gene Sperling, a former national economic adviser to Obama and former president Bill Clinton, stated: “So at end of close election, FBI deeply hurt HRC [Clinton] based on no evidence, while CIA sat on clear evidence of Putin interference for Trump.”

Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House committee on intelligence, said that … one would also have to be wilfully blind not to see that these Russian actions were uniformly damaging to Secretary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump.” He added: “I do not believe this was coincidental or unintended.”

"That any country could be meddling in our elections should shake both political parties to their core," incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. "Senate Democrats will join with our Republican colleagues next year to demand a congressional investigation and hearings to get to the bottom of this."

Several leading Senate Republicans, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, said they were preparing to launch a widespread investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and its cyber threats to the U.S. military. Both senators have been critical of Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Graham told CNN, “I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia. I think they’re one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage. I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay the price.”

President-elect Trump’s transition team released a statement that said, “These are the same people (the CIA) that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’” Trump repeatedly has downplayed any Russian interference in the U.S. election. During one debate, he said the cyberattacks could have been carried out by a “400-pound man sitting on his bed.”

Russian government hackers broke into the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to "research" on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. “When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is," said Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. "Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.” Russian spies also targeted the networks of Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as well as computers of Republican political action committees.

According to security researchers, two separate groups entered the DNC's system and read email and chat communications. CrowdStrike, the cyber firm that helped clean up the breach, said it has already kicked out the two hacker groups. The first, which CrowdStrike named Cozy Bear or “APT 29”, entered the systems in the summer of 2015 and monitored email and chat conversations. The firm speculated that these may be working for Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, according to Dmitri Alperovitch, the company’s chief technology officer. A second group, “Fancy Bear,” also called “APT 28,” came into the system in April 2016. It appeared to be operated by the GRU. The attack was the work of two agencies, each seemingly working without the knowledge of the other.

David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth reported 25 July 2016 that the release "... of some 20,000 stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, many of them embarrassing to Democratic leaders, has intensified discussion of the role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.... the theft from the national committee would be among the most important state-sponsored hacks yet of an American organization... "

Patrick Tucker wrote "Close your eyes and imagine that a hacking group backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin broke into the email system of a major U.S. political party. The group stole thousands of sensitive messages and then published them through an obliging third party in a way that was strategically timed to influence the United States presidential election. Now open your eyes, because that’s what just happened."

“This has all the hallmarks of tradecraft. The only rationale to release such data from the Russian bulletproof host was to empower one candidate against another. The Cold War is alive and well,” Tom Kellermann, the CEO of Strategic Cyber Ventures told Defense One.

The Director of National Intelligence said 28 July 2016 that Washington was still unsure of who might be behind the latest WikiLeaks release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails, while urging that an end be put to the “reactionary mode” blaming it all on Russia. “We don’t know enough to ascribe motivation regardless of who it might have been,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said speaking at Aspen’s Security Forum in Colorado, when asked if the media was getting ahead of themselves in fingering the perpetrator of the hack.

On July 29, 2016 it was reported that Federal authorities were investigating the possibility that hackers have breached the computer network of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as part of a larger cyberattack on the US Democratic Party. The disclosure of an investigation of possible computer intrusions targeting the Clinton campaign followed penetrations of DNC and the party's fundraising committee for its elected members of Congress, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Democratic Party officials pointed to Russian involvement in both of those computer penetration.

While the Democratic national convention was going on, Trump called for Russia to hack into Clinton's computer to find 33,000 emails she deleted after serving as the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013. During that time she used an unsecured private email server, rather than a possibly more secure government email server.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on 31 July 2016 on “Fox News Sunday" stopped short of saying Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to get Trump elected. “I’m not going to jump to that conclusion. But I think laying out the facts raised serious issues about Russian interference in our elections, in our democracy”. She said Mr. Trump had demonstrated an “absolute allegiance to a lot of Russian wish-list foreign policy positions... We would not tolerate that from any other country, particularly one with whom we have adversarial positions... And for Trump to both encourage that and praise Putin, despite what appears to be a deliberate effort to try to affect the election, I think raises national security issues.”

John McAfee, co-founder of the eponymous computer protection software firm, in an interview on RT with Larry King stated he did not believe it was the Russians based on his experience. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange himself has disclosed the leaks did not come from Russia. And a former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, in an interview with the Guardian, asserted categorically he had met the leaker, who was not Russian but an insider.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News that Russians did not provide hacked political documents from John Podesta, former chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and other Democratic Party operatives that he published. President-elect Donald Trump, one of the chief critics of the administration's Russia allegations, reiterated Mr. Assange's claim in a tweet: "Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!"

Wikileaks offered a $US20,000 reward to help find the killer of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who some conspiracy theorists claim was the source that tipped off Wikileaks and handed it thousands of DNC emails. Wikileaks announced through its Twitter account that it would give the money for information leading to a conviction of Seth Rich’s killer. Rich was shot in Washington, D.C. on July 10. The case was under investigation, yet no suspects have been named and it's thought to be related to an armed robbery. U.S. authorities and experts previously said that they were very confident that the DNC email leak was due to hacking from Russian intelligence, but the Wikileak bounty helped to fuel rumors about Rich’s involvement in the leaks.




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