Date
16 October 2018
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyber threats. Photo: Reuters
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyber threats. Photo: Reuters

US spy chief ‘resolute’ on Russia cyber attack

The top US intelligence official said on Thursday he was “even more resolute” in his belief that Russia staged cyber attacks on Democrats during the 2016 election campaign.

This comes against persistent skepticism from Republican President-elect Donald Trump about whether Moscow was involved, Reuters reports.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he had a very high level of confidence that Russia hacked Democratic Party institutions and campaign staff email, and disseminated propaganda and fake news aimed at the Nov. 8 election.

“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was” on Oct. 7 when the government first publicly accused Russia, Clapper told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said a motive for the attack would be made public next week.

Although Trump called himself a “big fan” of intelligence agencies, he is heading for a conflict over the issue because he has cast doubt on their assessments that Russia targeted the election and the campaign of his opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

“There’s a difference between healthy skepticism and disparagement,” Clapper said. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has used the expression “healthy skepticism” to defend Trump’s criticism of intelligence agency findings.

Lawmakers from both parties are wary of Moscow and distrust Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and efforts to heal the rift between the United States and Russia.

Thursday’s hearing, overseen by Republican Senator John McCain, one of the most vociferous Russia critics in Congress, was the first in a promised series of hearings into allegations that Russia tried to disrupt or influence the US campaign, one of the most bitter in recent history.

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