In a bold move with just weeks left in Obama’s presidency, the White House announced it wants an in-depth review of the cyberattacks that possibly had an impact on the election process; and the president wants it on his desk before he leaves office on January 20th.
Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco told reporters on Friday:
“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 has happened and to impart some lessons learned.”
Added White House spokesman Eric Schultz at the daily press briefing:
“This will be a review that is both broad and deep at the same time.”
In other words, it’ll be a deep-dive by the intelligence community to see if the argument that Russian hackers tried to infiltrate the U.S. election process holds water.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 9, 2016
Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to believe the cyberattacks involving tampering with the Democratic National Committee, as well as those against the Hillary Clinton campaign, did something to sway the outcome of the election that ultimately led to a Donald Trump win.
As to whether the Obama administration will make public the results of this review, Schultz wasn’t sure, because it’s likely to contain some top-secret information:
“Obviously, you can imagine a report like this is gonna contain highly, you know, sensitive and even classified information….[We’ll] make public as much as we can.”
The concern over Russia’s apparent meddling in America’s affairs isn’t solely on the minds of Democrats; several Republicans have also voiced the need for a digging deeper on how far the security breaches have gone, and could go in the future. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), head of the Intelligence Committee, have both, in recent weeks, noted their intention to investigate the matter.
Obama has had a chilly relationship for several years with Vladimir Putin as the result of many philosophical and political differences, from Syria to cybersecurity; they have a history of handshakes without making eye contact.Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with US President Barack Obama as they meet on the sidelines of the UN conference on climate change November 30, 2015 at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital Paris. Image credit: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images
They did it again just last month:US President Barack Obama (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (2nd-R) shake hands before an economic leaders meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit at the Lima Convention Centre on November 20, 2016 in Peru. Image credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Obama’s move to get the full review done, and get it done before he leaves office, is a signal to Trump that caring about Russia’s cyber movements, and the questionable involvement in our electoral process, is paramount. If Obama has the opportunity to find evidence of tampering, and make it public before he leaves office, it could mean Trump will have a trickier time batting away the insinuation that Russia did indeed use hacking to create a democratic disturbance.