Clapper called Russia a “full-scope actor” that threatened the U.S. ">
A U.S. Senate committee hearing into foreign cyberthreats took place Thursday, where outgoing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reiterated his belief that Russia planned and undertook a cyberattack in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.
While he did not go into detail about his beliefs, Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere in our election process that we’ve seen in this case.”
“Our assessment now is even more resolute than it was,” he added.
Clapper claimed that Russia used hacking against the Democratic National Committee, fake news, social media and state-sponsored media to influence the November election, but “they did not change any vote tallies or anything of that sort.”
National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre also testified in the hearing lead by Arizona senator John McCain. Along with Clapper, Lettre and Rogers painted Russia as a major cybersecurity threat to the U.S. across a wide range of interests due to its sophisticated cyberattack program.
While Clapper referred to Russia as a “full-scope actor” that threatens the U.S. government, military, diplomacy commerce and infrastructure, he explained that more than 30 states are currently developing “offensive” cyberattack technology. “China continues to conduct espionage,” he added.
After Senator McCain asked, “should we attach any credibility to Julian Assange?” Clapper responded, “not it my view,” adding that the WikiLeaks founder’s actions have put U.S. lives in danger.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has appeared critical of the idea of Russia’s involvement in the election hacking scandal and there has been talk that he is planning to restructure U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly as he aims to repatch shaky relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Clapper agreed with others, saying that Trump was unfairly critical of U.S. intelligence agencies, noting that “there is an important distinction between healthy skepticism that policymakers, including the first policymaker, should always have toward intelligence.”
Separately on Thursday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer responded to talk about Trump restructuring U.S. intelligence agencies, saying that “there is no truth to this idea.”
While Russia has strongly denied involvement in a cyberattack against the U.S., outgoing President Barack Obama has said that he has “great confidence” in CIA reports that concluded the Russian government intervened in the U.S. election. Trump, however, has rejected the report, denying that Russian intervention helped him to an unexpected win over Democratic rival Hilary Clinton.
Clapper, who will also conclude his tenure once Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, said that a report compiled by the NSA, CIA and FBI will be released next week, further detailing Russia’s hacking of the DNC.