Much has been reported about Russia’s highly successful counter intelligence operation in 2016 that tipped the balance of the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. New evidence has emerged, however, that shows their hacking effort went far deeper than anyone has previously comprehended.
NBC News reported Wednesday that, “The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.”
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn’t talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, ‘We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.’ “
When the United States law enforcement and intelligence communities first sounded the alarm over the Kremlin’s massive operation to undermine the 2016 presidential election – and the Trump campaign’s possible cooperation, coordination, and collusion in their effort – Donald Trump and his defenders were quick to dismiss their conclusions on both what happened, and who perpetrated it.
“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC,” then-candidate Trump said in September of 2016, referring to just one entity Russia targeted with their hackers.
“Hillary’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. It could be Russia but it could be China, it could be lots of people. It could be somebody that sits on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. You don’t know who broke into DNC.”
After Trump’s controversial victory, he and his allies tried to maintain that the whole thing was a hoax, an elaborate tale cooked up by bitter Democrats desperate for a reason to explain Hillary Clinton’s historic loss.
Later, when President-Elect Trump met with intelligence officials just days before his inauguration, he finally admitted that it was “probably Russia,” even though just over a month after taking office, he still seemed eager to give them a pass.
“Knowing something about hacking, if you don’t catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it’s very hard to say who did the hacking,” he said on CBS’s Face The Nation at the 100 day mark of his presidency. “With that being said, I’ll go along with Russia. Could’ve been China, could’ve been a lot of different groups.”
While Trump and his minions have continued to move the goal posts on what actually happened – and who actually did it – they’ve been consistently in denial about one crucial point: Whatever Russia hacked, whoever their fake news convinced on social media, the actual voter rolls were not touched, and voting results were not changed, and therefore Donald Trump’s victory is in no way delegitimized.
Now, it appears, that taking point is dissolving as well.