California senator Feinstein says Russian hacking altered outcome of the election


Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said Sunday that Russian hacking altered the outcome of the presidential election.

“That's what I believe. I've had all of the major classified briefings. I have been astonished at what has been a two-year effort at Russia to spear phish, to hack, to provide disinformation and propaganda wherever it really could,” said Feinstein, who until recently was the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“It's pretty clear that the hacking was of both political parties but with the aim of hurting Hillary Clinton and then, if Hillary Clinton were to win, the aim clearly was to weaken her,” said Feinstein on NBC's “Meet the Press.”

Host Chuck Todd repeatedly asked Feinstein whether she believed that the Russian effort altered the outcome of the presidential election and Feinstein said she does.

She said that Clinton was also hurt by FBI Director James Comey's announcement 11 days before the election that the bureau found new emails pertinent to an investigation of Clinton that had been considered over for months. It subsequently turned out that the emails were irrelevant to the FBI's conclusions in the investigation.

Feinstein stopped short of saying Comey is unfit to continue as FBI director.

“I think that is a decision to come, when everybody learns much more about what drove this,” Feinstein said.

The Justice Department's inspector general is investigating how Comey handled the case of Clinton's emails.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will be probing the intelligence community's conclusions on Russian hacking. Feinstein said she trusts the committee, led by Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, to do the job well but if it doesn't then she'll push for an outside panel.

The probe “should be full and robust with respect to who gave the order to do this, who participated in it, exactly what they did and how they carried it out and what it portends for the future,” Feinstein said.

“If we can't carry out an election without disinformation being pumped into it by another country, we have got a huge destruction of our system going on,” Feinstein said.

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham