Obama orders 'deep dive review' of 'malicious' election campaign hacking

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct a broad review on the election-season hacking that rattled the presidential campaign and raised new concerns about foreign meddling in U.S. elections, a White House official said Friday.

White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco said Obama ordered officials to report on the hacking of Democratic officials’ email accounts and Russia’s involvement.

The report is due to be submitted to the president before he leaves office next month. Monaco did not say if the report would be made public.

The review, led by intelligence agencies, will be a “deep dive” into a possible pattern of increased “malicious cyber activity” timed to the campaign season, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

It will look at the tactics, targets, key actors and the U.S. government’s response to the recent email hacks, as well as incidents reported in past elections, he said.

“The president wanted this done under his watch because he takes it very seriously,” he said. “We are committed to ensuring the integrity of our elections.”

U.S. intelligence officials have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic officials’ email accounts in an attempt to interfere with the presidential campaign. The Washington Post reported Friday that the CIA has concluded that Russia aimed specifically to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

The Post said the CIA presented its assessment to senators last week. The newspaper’s report cited anonymous U.S. officials who were briefed on that closed-door meeting.

Looking into Russian connection 

U.S. intelligence officials previously accused Russia of being behind the breaches as part of an effort to interfere with the presidential campaign.

In the months leading up to the election, email accounts of Democratic party officials and a Hillary Clinton campaign aide were breached, emails were leaked to Wikileaks, and embarrassing and private emails were posted online.

Many Democrats believe the hackings benefited Trump’s bid. During the campaign, Trump downplayed the possibility that Russia was involved.

Since Trump’s victory, Democratic lawmakers on the Senate intelligence committee have been pushing Obama to declassify more information about Russia’s role.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said he welcomed Obama’s call for a review.

“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,” Schiff said in a statement.

If the administration doesn’t respond “forcefully” to such actions, “we can expect to see a lot more of this in the near future,” he said.

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CBC | World News