‘This is a very real threat’: Top intelligence officials lay out blunt case on Russian hacking as Trump again casts doubt

Business Insider reports: Current and former officials said in testimony before the congressional intelligence committees on Wednesday that Russian hackers infiltrated election systems in at least 21 states leading up to Election Day in a “well-planned, well-coordinated” campaign directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The overlapping House and Senate hearings were held amid questions about President Donald Trump’s stance on Russia’s election interference and whether he believes it occurred at all.

Former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month that Trump asked about the Russia investigation only with regard to how it affected him personally rather than how it affected US national security. And The New York Times reported that Trump — who has called the investigation a “fake” attempt by Democrats to justify their defeat — was questioning whether Russia was behind the hacks as late as March in conversations with intelligence chiefs.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not provide a definitive answer Tuesday when asked whether Trump believed Russia interfered in the election, telling reporters that he had not “sat down” with Trump and asked him about it since he took office five months ago.

There were many questions the witnesses — including former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and one of the FBI’s top counterintelligence officials, Bill Priestap — could not answer because of restrictions on disclosing classified information in an open setting. But they were unequivocal on one point: Americans should have no doubt that Russia meddled in the election. [Continue reading…]

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