White House Orders Review of Presidential Election Hacking

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The White House has ordered a “full review” of hacks related to the most recent presidential election, according to Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security.

“The president earlier this week instructed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of the pattern of malicious cyber activity related to our presidential election cycle,” said Eric Schultz, the principal deputy White House press secretary. “This report will dig into this pattern of malicious cyber activity tying to our elections, take stock of our defensive capabilities, and capture lessons learned to make sure that we brief members of Congress and stakeholders as appropriate.”

The original announcement , which was made at a Christian Science Monitor event on Friday and originally reported by Politico, comes in the wake of requests by members of Congress that the White House declassify information about Russia’s involvement in the hacks and petitions for hearings on the same topic.

Unlike the previous review undertaken by the intelligence community in October, which focused exclusively on the hacks that occurred just before the 2016 election, the newly announced review will examine the cybersecurity of the 2008, 2012, and 2016 elections.

“The FBI investigation was looking at specific acts that we saw over the fall and summer of this year,” said Schultz. “This is going to put that activity in a greater context.”

According to Schultz, the president “has requested that this review be completed and submitted to him before the end of his term.” However, there is no definitive information about how much of the report will be made available to the public.

“The administration should work to declassify as much as possible, while protecting our sources and methods, and make it available to the public,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., in a statement about the review.

“We’re going to make public as much as we can,” said Schultz.

Schiff added that the administration should endeavor to complete the review before the transfer of power, especially in light of President-elect Trump’s previous denials of Russian involvement.

“Given President-elect Trump’s disturbing refusal to listen to our intelligence community and accept that the hacking was orchestrated by the Kremlin, there is an added urgency to the need for a thorough review before President Obama leaves office next month,” Schiff wrote. “More than that, the administration must begin to take steps to respond forcefully to this blatant cyber meddling, and work with our allies in Europe who have been targets of similar attacks to impose costs on the Kremlin; if we do not, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the future.”

Schultz told reporters that the review would not be focused exclusively on Russia, as the hacks on the Obama and John McCain campaigns in 2008 were enacted by the Chinese.

“We will be looking at all foreign actors and any attempt,” Schultz said.

With only just over 40 days left in office, a response to the review will likely have to be enacted by the incoming administration.

“This will be a challenge for the next administration and the next Congress,” said Schultz, adding that the results of the review “can provide a road map” for the future leadership.

Schultz also informed reporters that the review is not an attempt to contest the results of the election, but that “the president wanted this done on his watch because he takes it very seriously.”

Contributing: Morgan Lynch

Jessie Bur
About Jessie Bur
Jessie Bur is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Cybersecurity, FedRAMP, GSA, Congress, Treasury, DOJ, NIST and Cloud Computing.
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