Published 1 December 2016
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) led seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday in asking President Barack Obama to declassify information relating to the Russian government and the U.S. election. Russian government hackers – employed by two Russian government agencies — conducted a hacking and disinformation campaign in the run up to the election, aiming to undermine Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, but no evidence has emerged to suggest that the Russian government hackers interfered with the voting process itself.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) led seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday in asking President Barack Obama to declassify information relating to the Russian government and the U.S. election.
Intelligence Committee members Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), Angus King (I-Maine), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and ex-officio member Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), joined the letter.
“We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public. We are conveying specifics through classified channels,” the lawmakers wrote.
Politico notes that the brief letter did not offer details about specific intelligence concerning Russian meddling in the elections, or the impact such meddling had on the outcome of the election. While there is incontrovertible evidence of Russian government hackers – employed by two Russian government agencies — conducting a hacking and disinformation campaign in the run up to the election, no evidence emerged to suggest that the Russian government hackers interfered with the voting process itself.
The Russian hacking effort, rather, aimed to undermine the presidential bid of Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win – in a manner similar to Russian meddling in the elections and public discourse in several European countries. This meddling, in both Europe and the United States, aimed to help populist, right-wing, and ethno-nationalist forces which share anti-EU, anti-NATO, anti-globalist, and anti-immigration preferences, and which have publicly praised Vladimir Putin and his “strong” leadership while criticizing more traditional – or “establishment” – Western leaders as weak and indecisive (see “Russian gov. hackers may disrupt Germany’s 2017 elections: Germany’s intel chief,” HSNW, 29 November 2016).
A spokesman for Wyden, Keith Chu, said the senator believed the intelligence needed to be declassified “immediately,” as it was in the “national interest that the American public should see it.”
On 7 October, the director of U.S. national intelligence and the secretary of homeland security, in an unusual step, publicly and formally accused Russia’s “senior-most” officials of ordering the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer systems. Director James Clapper and Secretary Jeh Johnson said intelligence showed that the Russians were trying to “interfere” in the U.S. election.
The Russian intelligence agencies – the FSB and the GRU – responsible for the hacking of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, coordinated with WikiLeaks the publication of the e-mails – some authentic, some doctored – and the FBI has been investigating whether people in the Trump campaign were linked to the theft and publications of the e-mails. The FBI was especially interested in the fact that Roger Stone, a Republican operative close to the Trump campaign, appeared to have prior knowledge of the e-mail publication schedule the Russian government agencies worked out with WikiLeaks.
The FBI would not say whether individuals associated with the Trump campaign have been questioned, or whether the investigation is on-going.