The White House has officially accused President Putin and his cronies of “hacking” the 2016 elections in order to “interfere with the Presidential election”.
Intelligence officials claim Moscow is behind the recent hacks and leaks relating to the 2016 Presidential elections, just one day after they accused Putin of committing “war crimes“.
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Russian officials told Interfax news agency the claims it was involved in the cyber attacks were “nonsense”.
But a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security said high-ranking officials at the Kremlin were almost certainly involved in the successful attacks.
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” they said.
However, altering any actual ballots or election results would be “extremely difficult”, they added, because of a decentralised system and multiple checks and balances.
A number of embarrassing emails have come to light during the 2016 election campaign.
In July, a hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the release of documents from the Democratic Party.
Gigabytes of files including emails and other documents that revealed the inner workings of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were taken.
At an early stage, many US officials linked the breach to Russia. At the time, Moscow denied any involvement and denounced the “poisonous anti-Russian” rhetoric from Washington.
The leaked emails appeared to show that Democratic Party officials were biased against Bernie Sanders in his primary race against Mrs Clinton.
The hack led to the resignation of the party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and sparked protests at the national convention in Philadelphia.
Adam Schiff, a senior member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said he applauded the decision to publicly name Russia as the culprit.
“All of us should be gravely concerned when a foreign power like Russia seeks to undermine our democratic institutions,” he said.
He called for co-operation with “our European allies” to develop a response.
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