Congress to quiz US spy official on hacking report

Congress to quiz US spy official on hacking report

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top intelligence official is set to be quizzed on a declassified report that fingered the Kremlin in hacking during the presidential campaign, just one day after the U.S. sanctioned five Russians.

Tuesday’s appearance is second time in a week for National Intelligence Director James Clapper on Capitol Hill — this time before the Senate intelligence committee where lawmakers’ questions will expose the underlying debate over the future of U.S.-Russian relations.

The report explicitly tied Russia President Vladimir Putin to hacking of email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and individual Democrats like Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Russia also used state-funded propaganda and paid “trolls” to make nasty comments on social media services, the report said, although there was no suggestion such operations affected the actual vote count.

The report lacked details about how the U.S. learned what it says it knows, such as any intercepted conversations or electronic messages from Russian leaders, including Putin. It also said nothing about specific hacker techniques or digital tools the U.S. may have traced back to Russia in its investigations.

The economic sanctions levied Monday against five Russians are not related to the U.S. intelligence agencies findings, officials said, Instead, they are connected to a 2012 U.S. law punishing Russian human rights violators. Americans are now banned from doing business with the men and any assets they may have in the United States are now frozen.

The most prominent individual targeted by the U.S. is Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia’s main investigative agency. Bastrykin and Putin attended the same university together.

The Investigative Committee under Bastrykin investigated Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky’s death in prison in 2009. It determined that Magnitsky died in detention and closed the case after determining that there was no evidence of a crime.

Two of the Russians placed on the Treasury Department’s list have been accused of trying to help cover up Magnitsky’s death. Britain blames the two others for the London murder of a former Russian spy.

Forty-four Russians have now been subjected to U.S. sanctions under the so-called Magnitsky law, the State Department said.

Before the new penalties were announced, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that the Kremlin still believes the U.S. accusations of election hacking have no substance.

“They are amateurish and are hardly worthy of the high professional standards of top intelligence agencies,” Peskov said. “We categorically rule out the possibility that Russian officials or official bodies could have been involved. We are tired of such accusations. This is beginning to remind us of a full-fledged witch hunt.”

According to U.S. intelligence agencies, Russia provided the emails to WikiLeaks. The website’s founder, Julian Assange, denies that is the case, but Democratic and Republican members of Congress have largely backed the accusation and many have demanded a sterner response.

On Monday, Assange called the report on hacking a politically motivated “press release” and said it provided no evidence that Russian actors gave WikiLeaks hacked material.

___

Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Eileen Sullivan And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Cold nights mean homeless turned away from Langley shelter

The Gateway of Hope shelter has had send some people to other shelters as they ran out of room.

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Many turn out for Langley neighbourhood celebration

The second annual Brookswood Night of Lights on Dec. 8 kicked off the holiday season.

Langley RCMP seek man wanted for drug charges

David Main was last seen living in Langley City.

Surrey RCMP search for man who allegedly robbed Cloverdale store at knifepoint

Surrey RCMP release photos taken from surveillance video in November robbery.

VIDEO: Hundreds line up at Langley farm for pancakes and a chance to help

The 14th annual Krause Berry Farm breakfast with Santa raised almost $4,700.

Liberal Hogg wins South Surrey-White Rock byelection over Conservative Findlay

B.C. riding to be represented by non-conservative for first time in decades

Six-year-old boy needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Mother of sick Sooke boy asks government to help fund treatments

Environmental groups slam NDP decision to continue with Site C

Construction industry, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic about how the project will look

Be ladder safe both at work and home

WorkSafeBC wants you to keep safe while hanging those Christmas lights this year

B.C. overdose deaths surpass 1,200

96 people died of illicit drug overdoses in October

Feds agree to give provinces 75 per cent of pot tax revenues

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the agreement today

Red Scorpion associates cuffed in drug-trafficking bust

Kamloops RCMP lay charges in connection to Red Scorpion drug trafficking ring

BC Ferries adds extra sailings for Christmas

More than 175 sailings are being added, including 130 between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

Most Read