U.S. Intelligence Chief Suggests Russia Was Behind Election-Linked Hacks
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested Russia was behind a recent computer hacking operation that stole records from the Democratic Party and then leaked thousands of documents online.
Mr. Clapper, speaking Tuesday evening at an event hosted by the Washington Post, said Russia has been conducting similar exercises since the 1960s targeting the U.S.
“It shouldn’t come as a big shock to people,” Mr. Clapper said. “I think it’s more dramatic maybe because now they have the cyber tools.”
A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Clapper’s comments were his most explicit to date connecting Russia to the hacking operation, which is believed to have been conducted over more than a year. Three internet outlets have leaked some of the stolen files since April, with some of the files proving embarrassing enough that their disclosure prompted the resignations of several top Democratic Party officials.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has accused Russia of conducting the cyberattack operation, but her rival, Republican nominee Donald Trump, has said it is unclear who was behind the computer theft.
Russian officials have denied involvement in the hacks, though President Vladimir Putin has said the dissemination of the stolen records was a public service.
Mr. Clapper in recent weeks has declined to weigh in on Russia’s possible involvement, citing an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and intelligence officials. On Tuesday night, however, he spoke of Russia’s alleged involvement more openly.
“There’s a tradition in Russia of interfering with elections, their own and others,” Mr. Clapper said.
It is still unclear what Russia is trying to accomplish by leaking the stolen records online, he said.
“It’s probably not real, real clear whether there’s influence in terms of an outcome [of the November U.S. elections] or what I worry about more—frankly --is just the sowing the seeds of doubt, where doubt is cast on the whole [election] process,” Mr. Clapper said.
The FBI investigation is probing the computer hacks and leaks as well as recent attempted computer intrusions into the networks of state election systems in Arizona and Illinois.