computer hacking

Trump Will Meet With Intelligence Leaders on Russian Hacking


President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday he will meet with intelligence officials next week to develop his response to a report that outlines how Russian hackers targeted America’s political organizations.

Trump also indicated the issue was not his top priority.

“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a statement several hours after President Barack Obama announced the United States was ordering 35 Russian intelligence officials out of the country and slapping sanctions on Russia in response to Russian hacking.

“Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation,” Trump added in the statement.

Trump was notified in advance of the White House action,

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said a “senior member” of Trump’s transition team was told about the sanctions on Thursday before the public announcement.

Throughout the controversy over Russian hackers breaking into the Democratic National Committee, Trump has been one of the few American political voices not seeking sanctions and hearings. Trump and his spokespeople have suggested that claims of damage to the Democrats from Russian hackers have become a partisan political explanation for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump.

Trump, who has said that as president he wants to develop positive relations with Russia, indicated that any decision about Russia’s connection with hacking into the Democratic National Committee should be preceded by proof.

Although Trump’s position has put him at odds with some in his own party, Trump adviser former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich, a past chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said “it’s very, very healthy” for the president-elect “to be skeptical and put pressure on the intelligence community to make sure that they put forward great information.”

On Thursday, as reported by Western Journalism, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a report that said two separate Russian groups penetrated American political organizations — once in 2015 and once in 2016.

The sanctions put in place by Obama Thursday can be lifted by Trump.

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act would require that for the sanctions to be lifted, Trump’s treasury secretary must certify that the Russians have stopped hacking. With Trump’s nominee, Steven Mnuchin, still facing confirmation hearings, action to support Russia would seem unlikely in a Congress that has shown a bipartisan interest in getting tough with Russia over its hacking.

For example, on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Obama’s actions towards Russia “a good initial step, however late in coming.”

“The Russians are not our friends,” McConnell said, adding that Congress will “work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response.”

However Trump “can get rid of it, but it’s very difficult,” said James Lewis, senior vice president and program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he studies technology and security. “They have done it in a way that’s hard to undo.”

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