Top U.S. intelligence official: Russia meddled in 2016 election through hacking and spreading of propaganda
The country’s top intelligence official said Thursday that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election consisted of hacking, as well as the spreading of traditional propaganda and “fake news.”
“Whatever crack, fissure, they could find in our tapestry…they would exploit it,” said Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on foreign cyber threats, and especially Russian hacking and interference in the election.
The hearing comes as President-elect Donald Trump has loudly and repeatedly voiced skepticism that the Kremlin was orchestrating the campaign, directly clashing with the view of the U.S. intelligence community and the committee’s chairman, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Every American “should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation,” McCain said at the opening of the packed hearing.
“There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked Clapper if he was ready to be challenged by Trump and the DNI said he was. Graham also advised Trump, “Mr. President-elect, when you listen to these people you can be skeptical, but understand they’re the best among us and they’re trying to protect us.”
Graham criticized President Obama’s response, saying he had thrown “a pebble. I’m ready to throw a rock” at the Russians.
“So to those of you who are ready to throw rocks, we’re going to get a chance soon,” Graham said. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is time now not to throw pebbles, but to throw rocks…”