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Top Democrats Conclude Russians Behind Series of Cyber Attacks

Sen. Dianne Feinstein / AP
• September 23, 2016 11:55 am

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Top Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees determined on Thursday that Russian intelligence agencies were behind the recent string of cyber attacks against political computer systems.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) issued a joint statement charging that senior Russian government officials ordered the hackers to break into multiple Democratic computer networks in an attempt to sway November’s election.

"Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election," the two California lawmakers said.

"At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election. We can see no other rationale for the behavior of the Russians," they continued.

The series of cyber attacks targeting Democratic organizations have primarily infiltrated the private email accounts of Hillary Clinton campaign staff and party operatives. Intelligence officials have blamed Russian government hackers for the Democratic National Committee breaches that forced the resignation of former chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.).

Moscow has adamantly denied involvement in the attacks.

"There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it," Russian President Vladimir Putin told Bloomberg earlier this month. "But I want to tell you again, I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this."

German security officials also said on Friday that the Russians launched a cyber attack against journalists and lawmakers in recent weeks.

The domestic intelligence agency BfV told the Associated Press the breaches affected the German Parliament, at least two political parties, and a media company over the span of a month beginning Aug. 15.

Berlin has also expressed concern that Moscow will use the hacks to leak information that could potentially influence next year’s general elections.

"Given the background of the American situation, it is important to me to protect the parties from spying," the head of Germany’s domestic spy agency said in a statement.