Intel Consensus: Russians Hacked The Election

The US intelligence community will issue a report “early next week” with a consensus finding that Russia did, in fact, mount a campaign to influence the US presidential election, using “classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news,” and the selective release of hacked emails, James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. Clapper said the report reflects agreement from the CIA, NSA, and FBI that Russia’s digital “fingerprints” were found on cyber intrusions related to unauthorized email disclosures, but he declined to say whether the influence campaign swayed the election, saying it’s not possible to determine “how the electorate was influenced.” New information has not changed the “unequivocal” Oct. 7 intel community statement that Russia had engaged in attempted election influence, only “strengthened it,” Clapper testified, but he also said he wanted to make clear that there was no evidence that Russia tampered with voting machines or counting mechanisms. SASC Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) complained that there is still no “strategy” or policy regarding how the US should react to such attempted interventions, nor on cyber attacks, or espionage, or civilian information theft. Clapper agreed that such a policy would “make life easier” but that it is not the intel community’s place to decide how to respond to such aggression. He also said it’s hard to know what kind of “counter-retaliation” might ensue if the US were to respond in kind. “I’m a big fan of sanctions,” Clapper said, as well as retaliation “at a time and place of our choosing.” Clapper also confirmed that the intel community believes strongly that the election interference was made at the direct behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.