US intelligence: Russia 'poses a major threat' to the US

James clapper fbi cia senate hearingChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesDefence Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcell Lettre II, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and US Cyber Command and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers testify on January 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Top US intelligence officials said in a joint statement Thursday that Russia’s senior-most officials were involved in hacking Democratic Party organisations in the months leading up to the presidential election.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence Marcel Lettre, and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers released the statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyberthreats.

US intelligence officials have blamed Russia for hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, before the election.

“We assess that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorised the recent election-focused data thefts and disclosures, based on the scope and sensitivity of the targets,” the statement said.

The statement said Russia “poses a major threat” to the US because of its “aggressive” and “advanced” cyber program.

“Looking forward, Russian cyber operations will likely target the United States to gather intelligence, support Russians decision-making, conduct influence operations to support Russian military and political objectives, and prepare the cyber environment for future contingencies,” the statement said.

Clapper said a final report on Russian interference in the US election would be released early next week.

President-elect Donald Trump has challenged the US intelligence community’s assessment of Russian involvement in election-related hacking.

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