CIA Investigates Presidential Election Hacks

By William Moore, Assistant Executive Editor

On Friday, the CIA briefed government officials on the results of a secret assessment that the agency conducted regarding the issue of hacking in the 2016 presidential election.  As reported by the Washington Post, the assessment found that the hacks being carried out by the Russian Government were not simply conducted to undermine confidence in the democratic process in general, but rather with the specific purpose of helping republican candidate Donald Trump to win the election. One senior official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators said, “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected … That’s the consensus view.”

According to Reuters, at some point during the presidential campaign the Russian government appeared to have concluded that Trump had a decent chance of winning and that his administration would be much friendlier to Russian interests than a Clinton one.  For his part, Trump and his transition team have taken the stance that they are not convinced Russia was behind the hacks.  In an interview conducted with Time magazine when discussing Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign emails published on WikiLeaks, Trump stated, “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they [Russia] interfered.” When asked about whether he thought that the findings of the CIA were politically motivated, Trump responded, “I think so.”  These comments are the latest in a series of actions and statements by Trump and his campaign indicating that there is deep-seated distrust of America’s intelligence community within the soon-to-be Trump administration.

With only a little more than a month left of their term in office, President Obama and his administration have ordered a full investigation by intelligence agencies to review the impact of cyber-attacks and foreign intervention into the presidential campaign.  As reported by Reuters, the president specifically ordered a report to be delivered to lawmakers and others before he leaves office in January.  While it is not clear at this point how much of the report will be made public, White House spokesman Eric Schultz addressed the issue during a briefing on Friday December 9 reported upon by POLITICO: “Obviously, you can imagine a report like this is gonna contain highly, you know, sensitive and even classified information,” but Schultz did vow to “make public as much as we can.” Time will tell what the investigation will reveal and how the Trump administration will choose to address the issue when he takes office on January 20.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 10th print edition.

Contact William at

william.moore1@student.shu.edu

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