The Russian hacking attack on the United States 2016 presidential election was much worse than has been revealed publicly so far. Russian intelligence agents reportedly broke into voter data systems in at least 39 of the 50 U.S. states even as President Barack Obama scrambled to stop the attacks, according to a blockbuster new report published by Bloomberg News on Tuesday morning.
In at least one state, Illinois, the Russian hackers attempted to alter and delete voter data, according to “three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation” into the Russian hacking attack who spoke to Bloomberg, the report says.
The report comes about a week after the leak of a classified National Security Agency intelligence report revealing that Russian hackers attempted to break into the databases maintained by about 100 local election officials just days before the November 8 election last year. The attack on local voter databases had not previously been publicly known, nor had the apparent fact that Russian election hacking continued into November. Obama said last year that the cyber-attacks stopped in October. Read the Inquisitr report on the leaked NSA document by visiting this link.
Access the full Bloomberg News report on the latest revelations of widespread Russian election hacking at this link.
United States intelligence agencies concluded in January of this year that the Russian hacking effort was designed to help Donald Trump win the presidential election and to damage Democrat Hillary Clinton so that even if she won, she would face unprecedented obstacles in her attempt to govern.
Obama used a special direct messaging system, known as “The Red Phone,” to contact the Kremlin, warning Russian President Vladimir Putin to call off the election hacking attacks. Obama stated that the Russian attempts to alter the outcome of the U.S. election could lead to a “broader conflict,” but the Russian officials simply said they’d look into it.
Putin, as recently as this month, has denied that Russia carried out the election hacking operation, saying instead that criminals within the United States might have been responsible for the hacking attacks. But in the closest thing to an admission of Russian culpability, Putin, in an interview on June 1, admitted that “patriotically minded” Russian hackers may have taken it upon themselves to carry out the election attacks to “make their own contribution to what they believe is the good fight against those who speak badly about Russia.”
While neither last week’s leaked NSA document nor Tuesday’s bombshell Bloomberg News report offers direct evidence that the Russian hackers directly altered vote totals, stealing votes from Clinton, or giving extra votes to Trump, and experts believe that the highly localized U.S. election system comprised of more than 7,000 individual voting jurisdictions makes it extremely difficult for a widespread election hack to work, one commenter — Charles Pierce of Esquire Magazine — noted that “it’s becoming increasingly harder to believe that, in one of those 7,000 local jurisdictions, the Russians didn’t strike gold.”
But experts say that the Russian hackers could have influenced the outcome of the election without directly altering vote totals.
“The Obama administration believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election,” Bloomberg reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller are currently investigating the Russian election hacking effort and specifically attempting to determine whether Trump or members of his campaign actively colluded with the Russians in their hacking attack designed to help Trump gain the American presidency. But the FBI would not comment on the Bloomberg report, according to multiple news outlets.
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