President Obama has ordered a “full review” into alleged Russian state-sponsored hacking designed to influence the outcome of the recent US presidential election.
The outgoing commander-in-chief made the move on Friday following a CIA assessment shared with senators that it was now “quite clear” the Kremlin’s goal was to have Donald Trump elected.
“We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Obama’s counter-terrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters.
However, intelligence officials apparently don’t have evidence proving Russian officials directed hackers to pass key Democratic Party emails to WikiLeaks, according to the Washington Post.
This gives the Putin administration plausible deniability – a classic move when dealing with this kind of high stakes geopolitics.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has gone on record as saying the “Russian government is not the source” – which may be true if the Kremlin hired individuals one step removed from government to do its dirty work.
Unsurprisingly Donald Trump and his team have been hard at work dismissing any such rumors a foreign power helped him get elected.
A brief statement read:
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again’. ”
Trump himself claimed on TV at the weekend that he doesn’t need regular intelligence briefings as he is a “smart person.”
He has also controversially rumored to have lined up ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state – effectively the country’s highest diplomat.
The Texan is known for his close ties to Vladimr Putin, having hammered out multibillion-dollar deals with Russian state-backed oil company, Rosneft.
He also received the Order of Friendship award from the Kremlin in 2013.
Obama has ordered the review, which will investigate the run-up to the past three presidential elections, to report before Trump is sworn in.