Following a range of leaks of data from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) this summer, rumors have been spreading in the United States according to which the Russian government would be seeking to “hack” the US presidential election so that its “preferred candidate” Republican nominee Donald Trump defeats his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The former said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a better leader than his US counterpart Barack Obama while the latter has been on the contrary very critical for long about Russia and its foreign policy. In late July 2016, the US Intelligence Community (IC) allegedly told the White House its “high confidence” that Russia was behind the massive leak of e-mails released by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, an organization whose stances have never been “pro-American” to say the least.
The crucial question here is actually to know whether Russia could be using data gathered through “routine cyberespionage” with a view to influencing the US presidential election. Of course, on the Democratic side, a significant portion affirms that Russia has been helping Donald Trump all along; and that Trump’s joke about the hack constituted a felony. On the Republican side, such accusations were promptly rejected as baseless if not paranoid.
Indeed, there’s been no evidence so far of any ties between Trump and Russia, and how could there be if this is an ongoing foreign intelligence effort for real. Considering Putin is better at leading a country than Obama is insufficient to accuse Trump of having been recruited as an “unwitting agent” of Russia.
Beyond so-called Trump’s admiration for Putin, the IC is in fact mostly focusing its efforts on investigating more serious cases like Russian hackers allegedly breaking into Arizona and Illinois state elections databases in early August 2016. Knowing the extent and how to counter foreign penetration into US cyber-networks have become the IC’s other top priority in addition to terrorism.