Clapper Claims WikiLeaks Connection With Russian Cyber Attacks Not Strong

December 13, 2016

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers last month that the U.S. intelligence community does not have strong evidence showing a connection between WikiLeaks document releases and Russian cyber attacks against American political networks during the 2016 election.

Clapper testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 17 and said there is insufficient information available to show Moscow and WikiLeaks coordinating their activities.

The intelligence community and Department of Homeland Security concluded in October that the Russian government was responsible for cyber attacks against U.S. political computer systems, including the Democratic National Committee's networks, to influence the 2016 election.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking member on the committee, asked Clapper on Nov. 17 whether Russian hackings would continue once Donald Trump becomes president. Clapper claimed that he did not "anticipate a significant change in Russian behavior" but added that such cyber interference "seemed to have curtailed" after the election.

Schiff then wanted to "drill down" on Clapper's comments about Russia pulling back after the results of the election, asking the outgoing intelligence chief if there was a connection between document dumps by WikiLeaks–most notably its release of thousands of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman, John Podesta–and cyber attacks from the Kremlin.

"As far as the WikiLeaks connection, the evidence there is not as strong and we don't have good insight into the sequencing of the releases or when the data may have been provided," Clapper said.

"We don't have as good of insight into that," he repeated.

The intelligence chief's comments came weeks before the CIA reportedly concluded that Russia intervened in the American presidential election through hackings to help Donald Trump win the White House. Other agencies in the intelligence community disagree with the CIA, including the FBI. While all the agencies believe Russia was responsible for the cyber breaches, there are differing views as to their purpose.

The CIA claimed Russia "quite clearly" helped Trump win the election while the FBI gave vague responses when lawmakers pressed the bureau on the matter last week, according to the Washington Post. There is much debate over whether Russia was trying to help Trump with its cyber activity or had another goal in mind.

Trump, now the president-elect, has rejected any claims of Russia interfering to help him win the election. Moscow has denied any involvement in the cyber attacks since the the U.S. government issued its statement on the matter back in October.