Ep. 36: Spooked by Russia
The Week Ahead

CQ Roll Call’s intelligence reporter Ryan Lucas separates fact from fiction on all the Russia-related reports that have thrown the nation’s capital into a tizzy. 

White House Won’t Call Russia Hacking an Act of War
POTUS takes Kremlin-backed actions ‘quite seriously’

The Obama White House will not call Russian hacking to influence the U.S. election an act of war. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The White House on Thursday declined to classify what the intelligence community has concluded was a Kremlin-backed hacking campaign to influence the U.S. general election as an act of war. 

In retaliation for Russia’s actions on behalf of President-elect Donald Trump, President Barack Obama last week slapped new sanctions on Russia and expelled nearly three dozen Russian intelligence operatives from the United States. Obama aides have signaled covert actions have also been conducted.

Obama’s Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course
Putin punishment among list of clashes Trump could have with own party

President-elect Donald Trump’s opposition to President Barack Obama’s retaliation against Russia for trying to influence the U.S. election will immediately pit him against the hawkish wing of the Republican party. And it soon could force him to veto additional penalties supported by his own party.

Trump, White House Trade Jabs Over Russian Hacking
Obama spokesman calls it a ‘fact’ that hacks benefited Trump’s campaign

The White House said Wednesday it held off on pointing the finger at Russian hacking because President Barack Obama didn’t want to be seen trying to help Hillary Clinton while also trying to protect intelligence agencies. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

President-elect Donald Trump and the Obama White House traded barbs Thursday over alleged Russian hacking aimed at influencing the U.S. election, with a top Obama aide charging that the cyberthefts hindered Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Trump fired the first salvo with a morning tweet, declaring that the White House and Democrats were only investigating and talking about alleged Kremlin-backed hacking because Clinton lost an election the party expected to win. The White House shot back later, with Obama’s top spokesman all but saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the alleged hacking.

Trump Openly Clashes With CIA Before Taking Office
Citing Iraq WMD intel, transition team bashes agency for Russian hacking findings

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has dismissed reports of Russian hacking involvement in the last month’s election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Presidents have openly clashed with the U.S. intelligence community for decades. Few, however, have done so before being sworn in. But that’s what Donald Trump did Friday night.

Trump’s feuds have been many: First, there were his Republican primary challengers, then Hillary Clinton, then “Saturday Night Live,” then China, and several corporate executives. Other than the skit-comedy show, the rest were rooted in his political strategy and plans for governing.

Obama Orders ‘Full Review’ of Russian Hacking
Probe won't be limited to 2016 election cycle

President Barack Obama expects the report on Russian hacking efforts during the election to be finished before he leaves office. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Barack Obama has directed the intelligence community to conduct a “full review” of Russian hacking efforts during the U.S. presidential campaign, a senior administration official said Friday, amid growing calls from Congress for greater public clarity on the Kremlin’s efforts to influence the elections.

White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa O. Monaco said Obama expects the report to be finished before he leaves office on Jan. 20. It will be shared with Congress, she said, but it is unclear whether it will be made available to the public.

Report: Congressional Leaders Briefed Year Ago About Democrat Hack
Both parties leadership were told that targets couldn't be told during ongoing investigation

The hack of Democratic emails led to the downfall of DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional leaders were briefed about a hack on the Democratic Party a year ago, according to a report from Reuters.

However, the members could not tell targets about the hacking because it would have revealed intelligence agencies were still monitoring the hacking as well as the sources and methods they were using to monitor the hacking.

Recent Breaches Raise Fears of Voting System Hacks
'Best Practices' considered for state and local election officials

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the administration is weighing putting the electoral system on a par with the power grid and the financial sector, categorizing it as critical infrastructure. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In an already topsy-turvy presidential campaign, the recent breaches of Democratic Party computer networks have fueled fears about potential foreign meddling and raised questions about how secure the electronic systems that record and tally votes across the country are from sophisticated hackers.  

For years, computer security experts have warned that electronic voting is vulnerable to hacking that could alter vote tallies and theoretically swing an election. The intrusions that compromised the Democratic National Committee and the House Democrats’ fundraising campaigns’ systems — both of which cybersecurity experts have blamed on groups linked to Russian intelligence agencies — have only heightened those concerns.