This comes as U.S. intelligence agencies are increasingly focused, U.S. officials tell CNN, on Russian influence on the upcoming presidential election.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently told CNN he is concerned the Kremlin may be seeking to undermine confidence in the vote. He said, “They see a U.S. conspiracy behind every bush. They believe that we are trying to influence political developments in Russia. Their natural response is to retaliate.”
Multiple agencies are now assessing the scope of the Russian intrusion, which includes hacking into voting data and systems.
Russia’s intention is not clear. But maybe less to help one candidate over another and then to sow doubt in the overall process and final result.
Clapper said, “Is this just to stir up trouble or was this ultimately to try to influence an election? And, of course, this is a serious, serious proposition.”
So serious that on Monday president Obama raised the issue as he and Russia President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in China. “We’ve had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past, from other countries in the past and, look, we’re moving into a new area where a number of countries have significant capacities and, frankly, we got more capacity than anybody both offensively and defensively,” said President Obama.
Sources tell CNN the U.S. intelligence community believes Russia was behind the recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee, the New York Times and think tanks in Washington. Investigators are also looking into who breached voter databases in the states of Illinois and Arizona.
For his part, President Putin has denied any tampering, saying, “I don’t know anything about it. And on a state level, Russia has never done this.