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Obama orders review of hacking during US election campaign

The White House said the review is not intended to question the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s victory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama
Image: Andrew Harnik/AP

US PRESIDENT BARACK Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct a broad review of election season cyberattacks, including the email hacks that rattled the presidential campaign and raised fresh concerns about Russia’s meddling in US elections.

The review 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.

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

Obama ordered the report earlier this week and asked that it be completed before he leaves office next month, Schultz 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.”

US intelligence officials have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic officials’ email accounts in an attempt 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 posted online.

Trump

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

Schultz said Obama sought the probe as a way of improving US defence against cyberattacks and was not intending to question the legitimacy of Trump’s victory.

“This is not an effort to challenge the outcome of the election,” Schultz said.

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

Representative 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.

The White House said lawmakers and relevant state officials will be briefed on the report.

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