President Barack Obama is obviously not spending his final few weeks in office as a lame duck, as he has ordered “a full review” of the 2016 election by U.S. intelligence after several reports of Russian interference have surfaced in the weeks after. Several contentious recount efforts are currently under way (or bogged down in court) in several states, but this is the first major instance of federal involvement.
In the run-up to the election, intelligence agencies suggested that a Russian-backed cyber attack was imminent. What’s more, their fears were backed up by additional reports following the election. Some security officials even urged Hillary Clinton to call for a recount based on Russia’s apparent interference. Even so, the White House has yet to announce whether or not they believe Russia was behind the supposed attacks. Plus, Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied all claims.
Everything changed on Friday when Obama’s counter-terrorism and Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco told reporters about the inquiry, whose goal is to assess the situation and determine whether or not anything shady occurred:
“We may be 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 this means, what has happened and to impart those lessons learned.”
Many lawmakers have pushed for President Obama to reveal details from their investigation, including former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who seems hellbent on leading a fact-finding mission. Graham didn’t mince words when it came to calling out Putin:
“I am going to lead the charge to investigate Russia’s role, not only in the elections but throughout the world,” Graham told CNN. “So I’m going after Russia in every way we can go after Russia. I think they’re one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage. I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay a price.”
Monaco went on to say the administration would share its findings with “a range of stakeholders,” including Congress. However, she cautioned, the investigation’s conclusions probably wouldn’t be made public:
“That’s going to be first and foremost a determination that’s made by the intelligence community. We want to do so very attentive to not disclosing sources and methods that may impede our ability to identify and attribute malicious actors in the future.”
It remains to be seen if Russia did, in fact, play a part in swaying the election, and if the investigation’s findings are ever made public, it probably won’t happen until after President Obama leaves office. For his part, President-elect Donald Trump has scoffed at the notion of Russia playing a part in the election, though Bloomberg reports Democrats and some Republicans are aiming to look into Russian hacking in 2017.