5 takeaways from the Senate hearing on Russian hacks

U.S. Intelligence is set to go public with its report on Russian hacking with senators on both sides of the aisle talking about it. USA TODAY

Here are the key things we learned from Thursday's hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Russian cyber attacks during the U.S. presidential election.

VIDEO: U.S. intelligence set to go public with report on Russian hacking

 

1. More than one motive

Top intelligence officials reiterated their belief that the Russians hacked Hillary Clinton's campaign and other political party groups in an attempt to influence the presidential election and help President-elect Donald Trump win. However, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there was actually "more than one motive." He said multiple motives will be detailed in a comprehensive report to be made public next week.

2. Trump still won

Clapper said the Russian cyber attacks "did not change any vote tallies or anything of that sort." However, he added that there is no way to gauge the impact of the hacking and the subsequent leak of information from Clinton's campaign on how Americans voted. He said the report to be released next week will not question the outcome or legitimacy of the election results.

3. No need for name-calling

The president-elect's dismissive comments about the intelligence community and its assessment that the Russians tried to influence the election were repeatedly brought up by both Democratic and some Republican senators, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Clapper said the comments are not helping the morale of agents at the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies. He said he encourages elected officials to maintain a "healthy skepticism" about intelligence reports but added that "there is a difference between skepticism and disparagement."

4. Russians did more than hack

Clapper said Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential campaign was "a multi-faceted campaign" that also included the dissemination of "fake news" and propaganda. "The hacking was only one part of it," he said. He added that the fake news and other disinformation efforts are continuing.

5. This is going to take a while

Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said he will continue to hold a series of hearings in the months ahead to try to develop a policy on how to best deter cyberattacks. McCain said basic questions must still be answered as part of that effort. Among them: what constitutes an act of war or aggression in cyberspace that would merit a military response, either a cyber counterattack or other action; who is accountable for this problem, and do they have sufficient power to deliver results; and does Congress need to change how its committees are organized to help find solutions? McCain has said he plans to create a new cyber subcommittee as part of the Armed Services panel. Republican congressional leaders have so far rejected calls for the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Russian hacks.


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