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Homeland Security

Obama Orders Review of US Election Hacking

By Cindy Saine December 09, 2016

President Barack Obama has ordered the intelligence community to conduct a "full review" of "hacking-related activity aimed at disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election."

The announcement comes as pressure is mounting from Democratic and Republican members of Congress who are calling for a thorough and public investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Eric Schultz, White House Principal deputy press secretary, told reporters Friday there has been a pattern of "malicious" cyber activity timed to coincide with U.S. elections. He said the investigation will be a "deep dive," going all the way back to the 2008 presidential elections, when cyber meddling was attributed to China.

Schultz said the investigation would look at any and all foreign interference, and investigators would go wherever the evidence leads them.

Asked about Russia's role, Schultz said this type of activity is "nothing new for Moscow," adding that the U.S. has seen Russia do this type of thing for years in Asia and across Europe.

Results of investigation

Schultz said the president has ordered that he be given the results of the investigation before he leaves office on January 20. He said the White House would make public as much of the report as it can.

Schultz also explained this is not an effort to change the outcome of the U.S. elections, but to preserve the integrity of future U.S. elections by revealing the scope of what happened.

Earlier Friday, White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco broke the news of the probe at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

"We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned," Monaco said.

A number of U.S. Congress members welcomed the announcement.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said in a statement, "The administration should work to declassify as much of it as possible, while protecting our sources and methods, and make it available to the public."

In October, the Obama administration formally blamed Russia for a cyberattack into the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations. Wikileaks published excerpts from the hacked emails that were potentially damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly has downplayed any Russian interference in the U.S. election. During one election debate, he said the cyberattacks could have been carried out by a "400-pound man sitting on his bed."

Trump's campaign said voters should focus on what was in the emails.

Congressional issue

Since Obama has only a few weeks left in office, the report may only serve to establish some facts for Congress to grapple with next year.

Several leading Senate Republicans, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, say they are preparing to launch a widespread investigation into Russia's interference in the election and its cyberthreats 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."

Putin has dismissed what he called U.S. "hysteria" over the hacking into Democratic Party organizations, saying it does not matter who hacked into the emails, and Americans instead should focus on their content.



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