The 2016 Election and Russia: Hacking and Retaliation

By Valeria Bula

The 2016 presidential election was more than what Americans could have ever imagined. From moments of hope to heartbreak and happiness to dread, the election had its share of controversies and scandals, even after its conclusion. Specifically, speculation and questions over Russia possibly changing the fate of the 2016 US presidential election .

Last week, a series of classified documents, including allegations that the Russians have personal and financial information in their possession about Trump, were presented to President Obama and President-elect Trump.

The allegations came from a credible British intelligence operative, however, the FBI is investigating the validity of the statements, given that its information is based on Russian sources and was compiled into a two-page synopsis.

Four of the senior intelligence chiefs: FBI director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, NSA director Mike Rogers, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented the briefings. These officials included the synopsis to highlight that suspicion that surrounds Russia as it is now known that they had compiled information that may harm both political parties, yet only released statements that harmed Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

This portion of the synopsis, many say, is part of the evidence to suggest that Moscow had intentions of detriment on the Clinton campaign.

Then, on Tuesday night, BuzzFeed released the 35 page complement of memos on Trump.

“The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians,” the BuzzFeed article states.

Today Trump held his first press conference since his election in which he attempted to liberate himself from the questions and suspicion arising Russia’s alleged role in the election. He began the event by criticizing CNN and Buzzfeed for the allegations made against him.

As time progresses, more and more voices emerge from Washington D.C. displaying discontent, nuisance, suspicion, and the want for retaliation. These voices go far beyond Obama and the Clinton Foundation, they include figures such as Mitch McConnell, top Republican within the Senate, who also calls upon investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential vote.

However, President-elect Trump, who many claim has won due to the Russian hacking and influence in the election, denies any claims of Russian involvement— even though the CIA has proof of the Russia’s involvement.

Back in 2016, the U.S. government announced in October that they were “confident” Russia curated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and its affiliations. These were the same hacks that resulted in the public release of thousands of private emails with damaging information, and perhaps Hillary Clinton’s loss in the race for presidency.

The conclusion made by the CIA was brought about by the latest surfacing evidence from investigations, including proof of entities connected to the Russian government whom were bankrolling “troll farms” which were creating fake news about Clinton.

The majority of the US intelligence community is increasingly confident the cyber attacks were made with the intent of aiding Trump, although the 17-agency intelligence community has yet to draw a final jurisdiction. President Obama, however, has announced he is determined to retaliate against Russia for their actions, claiming to have even spoken to Putin about it.

“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing,” he told NPR.

Moreover, President Obama has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to complete a full assessment of the hacking in U.S. elections, dating back to 2008, before he leaves office and Trump assumes presidency.

President-elect Trump and his transition team, on the other hand, are quick to deny any claims and dismiss any speculation or concern about Russia’s influence in the election, with Trump himself calling the CIA assessment “ridiculous.” Trump, however, doesn’t offer any reason or counterclaims for the CIA accusations but rather insists that is a political effort to to delegitimize his electoral college win.

On the other hand, several congressional Republicans accepted the CIA’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the presidential campaign and caused the hack of the DNC.

The FBI thus far has not concluded whether or not Russia directly breached the RNC or if the hacking was done to aid Trump.

In the upcoming governmental year, members of Congress are likely to agree to launch an investigation into the hacking. Democrats, in particular, also call upon the Obama Administration to declassify some of the CIA’s report.

Read the full report here.

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