Intelligence and law enforcement agencies are reportedly investigating whether Russia has launched a broad, covert operation to disrupt the U.S. elections in November.
Officials believe that Russia appears to be attempting to spread disinformation and hack into U.S. political systems in an effort to undermine confidence in the upcoming election, according to a report in the Washington Post. Investigators do not have “definitive” proof of a Russian operation, but there is “significant concern,” the Post quoted an anonymous senior intelligence official as saying.
Russian efforts targeting elections haven’t singled out the U.S. but are part of a global campaign, according to an anonymous source cited by the Post.
The report of an investigation comes after the Democratic National Committee reported a data breach in June. WikiLeaks later published about 19,000 DNC emails. The FBI is investigating the breach, and officials have pointed to Russia as the source of the attack. Russia has denied involvement.
James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, is reportedly in charge of the new investigation. Representatives of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments on the report.
In late August, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader and a Nevada Democrat, asked the FBI to investigate potential Russian election hacking efforts.
Russian election interference “is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results,” Reid wrote in a letter to the FBI.
Also in late August, the FBI issued a warning that hackers had breached state election systems in Arizona and Illinois.