While Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump is denying his chum Tsar Vladimir Putin unleashed his team of hackers to help him win the election, senior U.S. intelligence officials will testify in Congress on Thursday on Russia’s alleged cyber-attacks during the 2016 election campaign.
Trump has not been briefed on the hacks yet, but that has not stopped him denying they took place. He is apparently going to receive details on the DMC hack today.
He is already heading for a spat with Democrats and fellow Republicans in Congress, many of whom don’t like Putin and distrust Trump’s praise of the chap.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre are expected to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is chaired by Republican John McCain, a vocal critic of Putin.
Their testimony on cyber threats facing the United States will come a week after President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their alleged involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 election.
US intelligence agencies say Russia was behind hacks into Democratic Party organizations and operatives before the presidential election, a conclusion supported by several private cybersecurity firms. Moscow denies it.
US intelligence officials have also said the Russian cyber-attacks aimed to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several Republicans acknowledge Russian hacking during the election but have not linked it to an effort to help Trump win.
Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, were leaked to the media in advance of the election, embarrassing the Clinton campaign.
Trump and top advisers believe Democrats are trying to delegitimize his election victory by accusing Russian authorities of helping him.
However, he has not helped his case by nominating Moscow-friendly types to senior administration posts, including secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who while Exxon Mobil chief executive, was awarded the Order of Friendship, a Russian state honour, by Putin in 2013.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will also hold a closed-door hearing today to look at Russia’s alleged hacking and harassment of US diplomats.