Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has claimed his campaign email account was hacked by Russians.
Sen. Lindsey Graham also told CNN that he believed “the Russians” hacked into the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and accused them of trying to “destabilize democracy all over the world”.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied hacking accusations.
Donald Trump rejected a CIA report that Russian hackers tried to sway the election in his favor.
Also this week, NBC News reported that US intelligence officials now believe with “a high level of confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in a covert Russian campaign to interfere in November’s presidential election.
The attack targeted emails of the Democratic Party and of Hillary Clinton’s aide, John Podesta. The contents, passed to WikiLeaks and posted online, were embarrassing to the Democrats and shook up the presidential campaign.
The NBC report, quoting two unnamed senior officials, says that new intelligence shows how the hacked material was leaked and used.
According to the NBC report, the operation began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton before becoming “an effort to show corruption in American politics and split off key American allies”.
Lindsey Graham, a member of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CNN that “we were told by the FBI in August that we were hacked in June”.
He said: “I do believe the Russians hacked into the [DNC]. I do believe they hacked into [John] Podesta’s email account. They hacked into my campaign account.”
Lindsey Graham also said that he believed that “all the information released publicly hurt Clinton and didn’t hurt Trump.”
However, he stressed that the outcome of the election was not in doubt.
“I think Hillary Clinton lost because she wasn’t an agent of change and she tried to disqualify Trump and she wasn’t able to do it.”
He added that this was not “a Republican or Democratic issue” and must be tackled on a bipartisan basis.
Lindsey Graham accused Russia of attempting to destabilize democracy: “We should tell the Russians that on no uncertain terms, you interfere in our elections, we don’t care why, we’re going to hit you and hit you hard, we’re going to introduce sanctions.”
According to new reports, US intelligence agencies believe Russia acted covertly to boost Donald Trump in the election race.
The New York Times and the Washington Post reports say the agencies had “high confidence” about Russian involvement in hacking.
However, Donald Trump’s team dismissed the CIA line, saying: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
Russian officials have repeatedly denied the hacking accusations.
On December 9, President Barack Obama ordered an investigation into a series of cyber-attacks, blamed on Russia, during the US election season.
Image source Flickr
The hacks targeted emails at the Democratic Party and John Podesta, a key aide to presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
In October, US government officials pointed the finger at Russia, accusing it of meddling in the campaign.
Now, senior administration officials quoted by the New York Times say they are confident that Russian hackers also infiltrated the Republican National Committee’s computer systems as well as those of the Democratic Party, but did not release information gleaned from the Republican networks.
According to intelligence agencies, the Russians passed on the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks, the Times reported.
Democrats reacted furiously when email accounts of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, were hacked.
John Podesta’s emails were revealed by WikiLeaks and posted online.
Quoting an unnamed “senior US official”, the Washington Post said “intelligence agencies” had “identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman”.
At one point in the campaign, Donald Trump publicly encouraged Russia to “find” Hillary Clinton’s emails, although he later said he was being sarcastic.
Democrats claimed the hacks were a deliberate attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said President Barack Obama wanted the investigation carried out on his watch “because he takes it very seriously”.
John Podesta, the Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, has said the FBI is investigating whether Russia was behind a hack on his private email.
He also suggested Donald Trump’s campaign was given advance notice of the breach.
John Podesta’s remarks come after WikiLeaks published a trove of his hacked emails.
Hillary Clinton’s top adviser said the enquiry was part of a wider probe into hacks on the Democratic Party by groups with Russian ties.
“I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades,” John Podesta told reporters aboard the Clinton campaign plane.
“This definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian intelligence agencies, who seem to be doing everything they can on behalf of our opponent.”
John Podesta pointed to a tweet by Donald Trump’s adviser Roger Stone in August that said Podesta’s “time in the barrel” was coming.
Image source Wikipedia
However, the tweet was posted shortly after WikiLeaks released thousands of hacked emails from other Democratic officials.
John Podesta also claimed Roger Stone has been in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but acknowledged evidence was “circumstantial”.
Roger Stone told the AP that John Podesta’s claims were “categorically false” while WikiLeaks tweeted that it “has had no contact with Roger Stone”.
John Podesta also speculated that the timing of the first WikiLeaks release on October 7 was intended to distract from the explosive 2005 footage showing Donald Trump making inappropriate comments about groping women.
The Clinton campaign has not verified the authenticity of the leaked emails, adding that they could have been altered.
Hillary Clinton’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri said: “The pattern is they hack, they leak truthful things, and then they build up to leaking documents that are either doctored or wholly fabricated.”
The latest batch of emails offer a glimpse into Hillary Clinton’s political network, suggesting that Donna Brazile, Democratic National Committee interim chairman, had given the nominee advance notice of a question she would be asked at a CNN town hall event.
Donna Brazile denied any impropriety on October 11.
US relations with Russia have taken a central role in the presidential election.
Last week, US intelligence officials said the Russian government was behind a series of hacks aiming to influence the presidential election.
Hillary Clinton has also questioned Donald Trump’s praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong leader, his connection to Russian businessmen and his criticism of the NATO alliance.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told CNN the hacking allegations were flattering but ridiculous.
When asked about Donald Trump’s comments about women, Sergey Lavrov said there were “pussies” on both sides.