On Friday, the White House announced that President Obama has demanded a full review of potential Russian election hacking activities. In fact, the outgoing POTUS has ordered that the alleged Russian behavior and hacking aimed at meddling in the free election process of the United States be investigated not just for the disputed 2016 election cycle, but all the way back to 2008.
The news of President Obama’s Russian election hacking review was first broken at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast by White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco. She told those in attendance that the president’s order was based on the shocking outcome of the 2016 election cycle.
“The President has directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process. It is to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders. This is consistent with the work that we did over the summer to engage Congress on the threats that we were seeing.”
Later, it was added that President Obama is also focusing on potential Russian hacking going back nearly a decade, or two full election cycles. Specifically, the intelligence review is slated to target “malicious cyber activity” potentially involving U.S. elections.
While the announcement of President Obama’s review into potential Russian election hacking was a public one, it is entirely possible that some of the results of the investigation will be not made available to the public. According to the administration, intelligence officials are very much aware that there could be negative consequences if too much of what is discovered is publicly revealed. However, according to White House spokesman Eric Schultz, an attempt at transparency will be made, and the White House will reveal “as much as we can” regarding what is discovered about Russian election hacking.
“You want to do so very attentive to not disclosing sources and methods that would impede our ability to identify and attribute malicious actors in the future.”
According to Lisa Monaco, President Obama isn’t expecting any time to be wasted regarding the newly-announced review into potential Russian election hacking. In fact, the POTUS wants the investigation to be completed before President-elect Trump is inaugurated in January.
“He expects to get a report prior to him leaving office.”
As The Guardian reports, President Obama’s Russian election hacking interference investigation will be one the POTUS’ last demands of the U.S. intelligence agencies before they turn their allegiance to incoming President Trump. The move to investigate the potential Russian hacking of the 2016 election reportedly came as a result of intense congressional pressure applied to President Obama by Democratic legislators.
@VictoryInLove Well, I mean this is a national security matter that, though, only affecting Dems, could affect all US citizens if unchecked.— Jake (@jakefromgaffney) December 9, 2016
@thinkprogress They had better hurry up and get going on it because that investigation will be shut down on Jan. 21.— Doug (@ThynkTwyce) December 9, 2016
According to congressional Democrats, Donald Trump benefited tremendously from Russian election hacking during the 2016 election cycle. Particularly, they believe that Trump got a boost when the DNC was hacked earlier in 2016; that hack has widely been blamed on Russia. The Russian government has denied any hacking or meddling in the U.S. election process.
The Russian government has, in fact, responded to the news that President Obama has demanded an investigation into Russian election hacking activities going back years. According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Russia wants the United States to provide evidence that Russia has engaged in any kind of illegal or inappropriate activities involving the U.S. election process.
“We are also very interested in understanding what they accused Russia of. Many times the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Minister Lavrov have asked Americans to provide full information. But never had any response.”
Prior to Donald Trump’s surprise November 8 election victory, President Obama and others had already alleged that Russian election hacking might be influencing the democratic process in the United States. Allegedly, the Russian government (or its agents) may have been behind some of the Wikileaks email dumps; the information in those hacked emails disproportionately impacted Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
While Donald Trump’s alleged direct ties to Russia have also been questioned throughout the most recent election cycle, the U.S. intelligence community has stopped short of accusing the potential Russian election hacking activities of being focused on guaranteeing a Trump win. Trump himself has denied that a Russian election hacking issue exists despite the claims of other Republicans, private cybersecurity firms, and even U.S. government agencies.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has promised to “go after” Russia, adding that he wants Russian President Vladimir Putin to “pay” for that nation’s election interference.
“I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia. I think they’re one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage, I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay a price.”
According to Democratic California Representative Adam Schiff, Obama should go further than simply ordering an investigation into potential Russian election hacking. Schiff, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, wants to see President Obama declassify as much of the investigation as possible before he leaves office, as well as to “respond forcefully” to the alleged Russian election hacking, citing the incoming president’s refusal to heed the U.S. intelligence community.
“Given President-elect Trump’s disturbing refusal to listen to our intelligence community and accept that the hacking was orchestrated by the Kremlin, there is an added urgency to the need for a thorough review before President Obama leaves office next month. More than that, the administration must begin to take steps to respond forcefully to this blatant cyber meddling, and work with our allies in Europe who have been targets of similar attacks to impose costs on the Kremlin; if we do not, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the near future.”
What do you think? Is it appropriate for an outgoing president to order such an extensive review weeks before he exits office? Do you think that the newly announced investigation into Russia’s election activities will uncover anything significant or change the opinion of President-elect Trump? What are your thoughts regarding the Russian election hacking review ordered by President Obama?
[Featured Image by Alexei Druzhinin/AP Images]