Obama: "No Doubt" Russia Hacks Directly Impacted Election

Trump can be stopped, but only if Americans take their democracy as seriously as they claim to.

While Republicans and Trump supporters are busy denying the obvious, President Obama came out and said what everyone with a functioning brain understands: The Russian hacking of the DNC directly impacted the 2016 presidential election and helped Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton. 

“There’s no doubt that it contributed to an atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC,” Obama said in an interview with NPR, to be broadcast today.

“They understood what everybody else understood, which was that this was not good for Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” he went on. “I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections ... we need to take action. And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.”

While the public is yet to see the intelligence that reportedly directly indicates the Russian government -- and Putin specifically -- only Trump supporters and the regressive left appear to believe it is a giant conspiracy theory orchestrated by Democrats and a pro-Hillary CIA. Given Obama's extreme reticence to publicize the leaks during the election and history of cautious behavior, the likelihood is that the Russian government did indeed order the attacks, and the Obama administration is now openly discussing it given the rapidly accumulating evidence. 

Of course this could all turn out to be untrue, but given the evidence the public does have access to, it is highly unlikely. Private cybersecurity firms track and defend against hackers and are called in by government agencies to work with them.  As Time Magazine reported: 

CrowdStrike, was called in by the Democratic National Committee to analyze the hack against their computer system last April. With the DNC’s permission, CrowdStrike then posted details of what it had found. Attribution of hackers, whether by intelligence services or private firms, is a particular discipline. Much of it relies on signature methods used by the hackers, specific pieces of code, and distinguishing behavior.

CrowdStrike’s co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, uncovered evidence that two groups of Russian hackers he had named Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, had been behind the DNC hack. Cozy Bear used a tool called SeaDaddy that allowed it to stealthily exfiltrate information from a victim’s computer. The tool was almost identical to another exfiltration tool previously identified by Symantec as belonging to the group of Russian hackers known to have operated at the behest of Russia’s FSB, a main successor agency to the KGB.

Time also reported that: 

Subsequent analyses by other private firms found other evidence that Russia was behind the hack. And as the attacks broadened over the course of the 2016 campaign to include the DCCC and the email of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta, private firms found evidence linking the new hacks back to the DNC hack.

The private firms admit their open source evidence is not conclusive, but say in the world of cyber-attribution, this is close to as good as it gets. 

Given intelligence agencies are now openly stating that Vladimir Putin was directly responsible for the hacks and the President has declared the hacks helped elect Donald Trump, there is clear grounds to halt the electoral college vote until they have seen the evidence for themselves. 

Trump can be stopped, but only if Americans take their democracy as seriously as they claim to.