Reuters reports that U.S. intelligence agencies obtained what they call “conclusive evidence” after the November election that Russia provided hacked material from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks through a third party.
The Reuters’ report relies on information from “three U.S. officials” who remain unnamed.
They said the post-election intelligence gave the Obama administration greater certainty about the full role of the Russian government in the hacking and leaks of documents than it had on Oct. 7, when the U.S. intelligence agencies had said they were “confident” Russia orchestrated the hacking.
The additional intelligence also informed U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to retaliate on Dec. 29 by expelling 35 suspected Russian spies and sanctioning two Russian spy agencies, four intelligence officers and three companies, a decision that capped four months of debate at the White House about how to respond, the officials said.
The officials declined to describe the intelligence obtained about the involvement of a third-party in passing on leaked material to WikiLeaks, saying they did not want to reveal how the U.S. government had obtained the information.
The timing of the additional intelligence, as Reuters notes, is important because President Obama has faced criticism from his own party over why it took him so long to respond to the hacking.
As we reported in June, U.S. officials had concluded months ago that Russian intelligence agencies were responsible for the DNC hacking, but had been less certain that they could prove Russia also had controlled the release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to Reuters, a U.S. intelligence report on the hacking was scheduled to be presented to Obama on Thursday and to Trump on Friday, though its contents were still under discussion on Wednesday, officials said.
It’s hard to judge how much credence this report of newly revealed “conclusive evidence” that Russia provided hacked material from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks through a third party deserves. If Obama wants us to take this report seriously he should have someone speak about it on the record and provide enough of that evidence those unnamed officials find “conclusive” to convince those of us that might be skeptical about it.