The Obama administration and their allies in the media have been pushing the narrative that Russian hackers “interfered” with the election.
Now they are claiming the Russians also acted, in part, to elect Donald Trump.
There is just one big problem.
Zero evidence has been presented to back up this conspiracy theory.
The Obama administration released a declassified report claiming Putin ordered a complex cyber warfare operation which included hacking, social media trolls, and “fake” news stories to undermine American’s confidence in democratic institutions and in a revenge scheme against Hillary Clinton.
Critics believe this report was released to delegitimize Trump’s victory, as well as force him to move into a confrontational stance with Russia.
Trump blasted the report ahead of its release as a “witch hunt” during an interview with the New York Times.
The Times reports:
The president-elect’s written statement came just hours after Mr. Trump told The New York Times in an interview that the storm surrounding Russian hacking was nothing more than a “political witch hunt” carried out by his adversaries, who he said were embarrassed by their loss to him in the 2016 election. Speaking by telephone three hours before the intelligence briefing, Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized the intense focus on Russia.
“China, relatively recently, hacked 20 million government names,” he said, referring to the breach of computers at the Office of Personnel Management in late 2014 and early 2015. “How come nobody even talks about that? This is a political witch hunt.”
Later, Mr. Trump sought to blame the Democrats for any cyberattacks that might have occurred. “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place,” he said in a Twitter message posted about 11 p.m. “The Republican National Committee had strong defense!”
After the report was released, many pounced on the lack of evidence presented.
Hawkish writer Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard – a Trump critic who takes a much harsher line toward Russia – pointed out the Obama administration didn’t offer any evidence to back up their assertions of Russian meddling.
The intel report on Russia is little more than a collection of assertions. Understand protecting sources/methods, but it's weak.
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) January 6, 2017
Other experts also panned the report.
The Daily Caller wrote:
Bradley Moss, a national security expert and lawyer who handles security clearance cases, also calls the report disappointing.
“Aside from definitively pointing the finger at President Putin as orchestrating the Russian efforts, and identifying Guccifer, DCLeaks and WikiLeaks’ respective roles in exposing the information, the unclassified DNI report is long on findings and short on evidence,” Moss told The Daily Caller.
“One can only hope that one or both of the two classified versions contain far more concrete evidentiary bases for these findins.”
And The Daily Beast described the report as a “failure”:
“At every level this report is a failure,” says security researcher Robert M. Lee. “It didn’t do what it set out to do, and it didn’t provide useful data. They’re handing out bad information to the industry when good information exists.” At issue is the “Joint Analyses Report” released by DHS last Thursday as part of the Obama administration’s long-awaited response to Russia’s election hacking. The 13-page document was widely expected to lay out the government’s evidence that Russia was behind the intrusions into the Democratic National Committee’s private network, and a separate attack that exposed years of the private email belonging to Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
The Daily Beast also wrote that the report undermined the case against Russian hacking by listing 876 IP addresses connected to Grizzly Steppe – the code name given to act as an umbrella for all Russian hacking related activity – which also mixed in innocuous IP addresses that include the Tor network, a free software that allows users to navigate the internet anonymously.
The Daily Beast reports:
“It turns out that some, perhaps most, of the watchlisted addresses have a decidedly weak connection to the Kremlin, if any. In addition to the Yahoo servers, about 44 percent of the addresses are exit nodes in the Tor anonymity network, The Intercept’s Micah Lee reported Wednesday. Tor is free software used primarily for anonymous web browsing. Russian hackers use Tor, but so do plenty of other people.
“If you just create a list of all the IP addresses that could deliver you a virus or an attack, Tor exit nodes belong there—that’s true,” says security expert and blogger Robert Graham. “But it’s not useful. If it’s Yahoo, it’s not useful. It’s not something that you can blacklist or watchlist.” Yahoo servers, the Tor network, and other targets of the DHS list generate reams of legitimate traffic, and an alarm system that’s always ringing is no alarm system at all.”
Driving further skepticism was when the intelligence community made its case before a Senate committee hearing, and the star witness was Obama’s Director of National Security, James Clapper.
Clapper previously lied to Congress back in 2013 when he was asked by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden if the government was collecting data on all Americans.
Clapper testified saying, “No.”
But this was proven to be a lie when Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the NSA’s illegal, warrantless spying program.
A proven liar pushing the narrative that the Russians hacked the Democrat National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta has not inspired confidence in many Americans to think this is nothing more than a political hit job on President-elect Donald Trump.