Don’t in­ter­fere in our elec­tion, US warns Putin

Daily Mail - - News - From Tom Leonard in New York

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

Rally: Me­la­nia Trump ad­dresses vot­ers in Philadel­phia

Hair Force One: Don­ald Trump watches his wife’s speech on his pri­vate jet

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