Russian hackers likely broke into election systems in all 50 states during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, according to the testimony of Michael Daniel, the Obama administration’s former cyber czar, more than double the number previously given by the Department of Homeland Security. The White House cybersecurity coordinator from 2012 to 2017, made the remark while appearing on Capitol Hill during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing involving Russian interference in the race.
“We have received from the Department of Homeland Security inconsistent and varying numbers on the number of states whose systems were scanned by the Russians,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “How likely do you think it is that Russian cyber actors at least scanned all 50 states?”
“I think it is highly likely,” responded Daniel. He added that “there was no reason why they wouldn’t have at least attempted penetration of all 50.”
Daniel’s worst suspicions have been confirmed by Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents. Not only did they break into voting systems in key swing states, they probably accessed the election infrastructures of all 50 states and may have even altered vote tallies. It is now a literal fact, Russia stole the election for Trump. And since then, Trump and his congressional GOP (Government of Putin) cronies have conspired to cover up the crime. It is nothing less than high treason, for which Trump, McConnell, Ryan, Jordan, Nunes, Gowdy, and all the other traitorous jackals in our government should be facing the death penalty.
According to the indictment, GRU officers Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev began probing election infrastructure in the United States in June 2016. In July 2016, they allegedly identified a vulnerability and hacked into an unnamed state’s board of elections and stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters. They also broke into computers belonging to an unnamed supplier of software for verifying voter registration information for the 2016 elections.
The hackers scrambled to cover their tracks after an FBI alert in August 2016 revealed that the FBI was aware of efforts to compromise election systems. The hackers nonetheless continued to look for vulnerabilities in other parts of the country in Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida as late as October of 2016. They broke into the computer systems of at least five Florida county elections offices just days before the 2016 presidential election, according to five county officials who say they received malicious emails described in a leaked intelligence report. Election supervisors in Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus and Clay counties have confirmed this.
The first attempt targeted VR Systems, a Tallahassee-based vendor that sells voter registration software to all but three of Florida’s 67 counties. The second attempt was aimed at 122 election management officials across the country, just days before the election, and was disguised as a routine message from VR Systems. VR Systems’ software helps check in voters at the polls and doesn’t tabulate ballots. But since the attack could have infected election workers’ computers, it is quite possible that vote tallies were altered in Trump’s favor.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report says that in at least six states the Russian-affiliated cyber operatives “went beyond scanning and conducted malicious attempts on voting-related websites.” In most of those cases, the Russian cyberattackers attempted to use an SQL injection which involves using special characters on a public website to gain access and to either read or manipulate data.
The report says that in “a small number of states,” the Russian operatives were in a position to alter or delete voter registration data. And it’s a safe bet that it was registered Democrats’ who were knocked off the rolls. This alone could have determined the election by dictating who could and could not vote. In North Carolina, for instance, some legitimate voters in blue precinct could not vote because the e-poll registration system asserted that some legitimate voters weren’t registered.
As for changing the vote tallies, the right-wing is desperately trying to convince us the Russians didn’t do it. I don’t believe them. The GOP has lied to us about everything else, why not this? Hell a delegation of them just got back from the Kremlin where they may have been begging Putin’s hackers to rig the midterms for them.
The mainstream argument has now come down to this: despite their motivation to subvert our national elections, Russian leadership might still hesitate to alter vote tallies out for fear of getting caught. My counterargument is this: what would stop Putin from doing this? He knew that after his boy Donald was elected, there would be no retribution from the United States of Russia.