According official sources, U.S. Intelligence Community agencies have informed the White House that the series of computer breaches exposing internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails were most likely perpetrated by branches of Russia’s government.
While it is not know whether the hack was intended to hurt Hillary Clinton’s election chances or just a routine break-in, prominent Democrats including President Obama have pointed to Russia’s history of attempting to influence European elections through similar means.
Previous to the initial hack of DNC’s email server in the summer of 2015, however, Russia has not attempted to publicly embarrass an American political party or influence a presidential election in this manner.
“What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems, not just government systems but private systems,” Obama said in a Tuesday interview with NBC. “What the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that — I can’t say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin.”
The Clinton campaign has suggested that Russia could be acting vindictively against the former Secretary of State for publicly accusing the country’s 2011 elections of not being legitimate, or because it is favoring the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin denied involvement in the DNC breach, as federal government investigators attribute the initial hack to the Russian Federal Security Service. Subsequent break-ins have been pinned on the country’s military spy agency, Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), under the guise of “Guccifer 2.0” — believed to be a GRU agent.
“Moscow is at pains to avoid any words that could be interpreted as direct or indirect interference in the election process,” Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call. “We see that the Russian card is in the red corner on the writing table of all Washington politicians during the election campaign, and that very often they make it a trump card in their game.”
Trump himself has also denied any association with Russia that would cause the Kremlin to believe it could use his business interests in their country as leverage to demand concessions from the U.S. government in a potential Trump Administration.
However, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that while the New York businessman has unsuccessfully tried to buy real estate in Moscow for a long time, his son, Donald Jr., said once that Russian citizens “make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”
It is worth noting that the U.S. government also engages in similar espionage tactics against allies and enemies alike, including Germany and Russia, but has never released internal foreign documents to the public.
[New York Times] [Politico] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy AFP/Getty Images via DailyMail.com]