National Security

Did Russia meddle in U.S. election? Obama may keep answer secret, official says

White House adviser Lisa Monaco, appearing Friday before journalists, said an intelligence community report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election will be submitted to Congress before Jan. 20.
White House adviser Lisa Monaco, appearing Friday before journalists, said an intelligence community report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election will be submitted to Congress before Jan. 20. The Christian Science Monitor

The nation’s spy agencies are preparing a joint report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, but the report may not be made public, President Obama’s top aide for homeland security and counterterrorism said Friday.

The report will be finished before Obama leaves office Jan. 20, aide Lisa Monaco said, and distributed to Congress and some government officials but not necessarily to the public.

The issue simmers on Capitol Hill, where key Republican legislators promise to hold hearings in 2017 on suspicions of Russian interference in the elections, putting the lawmakers on a collision course with President-elect Donald Trump, who says he wants to work more closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin and who downplays reports of foreign hacking.

“The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process and to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders to include Congress,” Monaco said at a newsmakers breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

She declined to say whether the report would be made public, and noted that the White House plans to be “very attentive to not disclose any sources and methods that may impede our ability to identify and attribute such attacks in the future.”

We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after action, to understand what this means.

Lisa Monaco, White House adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism.

Earlier in the breakfast, Monaco said the U.S. government is determined to “impose costs” on those who use digital weapons to inflict damage on the United States and to use “all elements of national power against the cyber threat.”

The government in October officially accused Russia of hacking emails and documents from the Democrat National Committee. Those emails later turned up on WikiLeaks, the group dedicated to releasing secret government, and led to the resignation of the DNC chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Hackers are also believed to have tried to penetrate election systems in Arizona and Illinois. The actual impact of the hacking in swaying the outcome of the elections is not clear.

Monaco noted that Chinese agents hacked into the Obama campaign in 2008, and suggested that election meddling by foreign powers may be part of a persistent new reality.

“We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after action, to understand what this means, what has happened, and to impart lessons learned,” Monaco said.

Tim Johnson: 202-383-6028, @timjohnson4

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