Obama orders intelligence report on Russia’s role in US election

Kremlin suspected of being behind hacking attack on Democratic National Committee

President Barack Obama has ordered US intelligence to review evidence of Russian interference in the presidential election after coming under sustained pressure from congressional Democrats.

The review will be one of Mr Obama's final instructions to the intelligence agencies, which will soon report to Donald Trump, whom congressional Democrats consider the beneficiary of a hack targeting the Democratic National Committee.

Lisa Monaco, the White House counterterrorism director, announced what she called a "full review" at a breakfast briefing sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor on Friday.

"This is good news. Declassifying and releasing information about the Russian government and the US election, and doing so quickly, must be a priority," said Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the senate intelligence committee.


In October, the director of national intelligence and the secretary of homeland security publicly accused the “senior-most” levels of the Russian government of directing those digital breaches.

Mr Trump, who has treated Russian president Vladimir Putin with a warmth unequalled by most US politicians, has repeatedly dismissed the accusation as politically motivated.

Laid the blame

US intelligence laid the blame for the DNC hack at Russia’s feet but has not provided evidence supporting the accusation, although several private cybersecurity firms reaching the same conclusion have.

Earlier this month, all the Democratic members of the Senate intelligence committee publicly intimated the administration knows significantly more about Russian culpability than the October statement revealed, and implored Mr Obama for a public disclosure he has thus far resisted.

Yet the White House was more sympathetic to a request earlier this week from several senior Democrats in the House of Representatives, who wrote to Mr Obama requesting a classified briefing on the role the Russians played in the election.

While Democrats, stung by a rout in an election many expected to win, have spearheaded the calls for disclosure of Russian interference, they also have some Republican support.

Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina hawk who savaged Mr Trump on the campaign trail, told CNN this week he will use his Senate perch to pursue an investigation of Russian involvement in the DNC hack.

The review will be classified and delivered before Mr Obama leaves office on January 20th.

Democrats immediately pounced on the announced review and pressed the White House to declassify it before Mr Trump takes office.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Russia had "succeeded" in "sow [ING]discord" in the election, and urged as much public disclosure as is possible.

"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," Mr Schiff said on Friday.

A spokesman for the director of national intelligence declined to comment. – (Guardian service)