Don’t interfere in our election, US warns Putin
THE US has warned the Kremlin against interfering in its presidential election amid fears Russian hackers could spread chaos around polling day.
Officials said the White House and Department of Homeland Security were mounting an unprecedented effort to combat attempts by Russian president Vladimir Putin to damage the US democratic process and throw the election results into doubt.
Russia has been told that any attempt to manipulate voting or the vote count will be seen as a serious breach between the two countries, the officials added.
Michael McFaul, who was the US ambassador to Russia until 2014, said: ‘ The Russians are in an offensive mode and the US is working on strategies to respond to that, and at the highest levels.’
Washington is convinced that Russia has been trying for months to disrupt the US election, targeting the Clinton campaign by leaking its emails to Wikileaks.
The US also believes independent Russian hackers were involved in trying to interfere with voter registration rolls and computer voting systems in several states.
And the FBI warned that Al Qaeda may be planning pre- election day attacks on Monday in New York, Texas and Virginia.
The FBI was dragged back into the election debate yesterday as it emerged it is investigating one of its own Twitter accounts after it sent out a stream of pro-Trump tweets.
It came after FBI director James Comey revealed he had reopened an inquiry into Mrs Clinton’s emails, prompting accusations that he was trying to damage her election hopes.
US security officials have not ruled out Russian-sponsored cyber attacks on election day itself next Tuesday, such as paralysing campaign websites to deter people from voting. However, states generally don’t connect their voting machines to the internet.
Officials think it is more likely that hackers will try to interfere with the process after voting has ended to spread doubt about the legitimacy of the results.
Trump, who tweeted a photo from his private jet watching his wife Melania make a speech in Philadelphia on Thursday, has repeatedly warned that the election could be ‘rigged’.
Election- related violence is increasing and Right-wing armed militia groups are even preparing for unrest if Mrs Clinton ‘steals’ the election, as they fear will happen.
Wikileaks chief Julian Assange has fuelled the election rigging conspiracy by claiming in a new interview that Mr Trump ‘won’t be permitted to win’ the election.
Mr Assange, who denies his antiprivacy website is being used by the Kremlin, offered no evidence for his startling claim.
Despite praising Russia’s leader and promising to improve relations with America’s old foe, Mr Trump has denied any link with a relentless surge of leaked emails that have embarrassed his rival.
Mr Putin has publicly scoffed at claims he has authorised any election interference. US intelligence officials believe the Kremlin may be less trying to help Mr Trump than undermine Washington’s ‘holier-than-thou’ attitudes about so-called Russian democracy.
The Russians ‘want to sow as much confusion as possible and undermine our process,’ a senior Obama administration official told NBC. ‘So this is to make sure that we have all the tools at our disposal and that we’re prepared to respond to whatever it is that they do.’
The official added that Russian cyber warfare experts could cause ‘tremendous chaos’. ÷ Fear is mounting in Downing Street that ‘ madman’ Donald Trump could be elected US President, it has been claimed. A Cabinet minister is reported to have said the prospect of the Republican candidate in power was ‘terrifying’. Defying convention, the unnamed minister told BBC’s Newsnight: ‘We do not want Trump to win.’ Referring to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, he added: ‘Then we would have two madmen running the world. It is terrifying’. Dominic Sandbrook – Pages 20&21