Adviser contradicts Trump, says Russians hacked US poll

Washington, Jan 3 (IANS) A top adviser to US President-elect Donald Trump said that he thinks the Russians were involved in US poll hacking — a very different view than that held by the incoming administration, the media reported.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey, an adviser to Trump on national security issues, told CNN on Monday that determining who was behind the hacks is difficult, but that he believes the Russians, and possibly others, were involved.

“I think the Russians were in there, but it doesn’t mean other people weren’t, too,” he said. “It’s often not foolproof to say who it is because it is possible and sometimes easy to hide your tracks. There’s lots of tricks.”

Asked if Trump is playing the media with his comments on who was culpable, Woolsey said it was a “possibility”, and noted that Trump is an “expert in weaving around” on issues like this.

Woolsey’s comments come even as Trump and his aides continue to cast doubt on the links between Russia and recent hacks against Democrats, while US intelligence officials say that newly-identified “digital fingerprints” indicate Moscow was behind the intrusions.

One official told CNN the administration has traced the hack to the specific keyboards — which featured Cyrillic characters — that were used to construct the malware code, adding that the equipment leaves “digital fingerprints” and, in the case of the recent hacks, those prints point to the Russian government.

But, despite an initial public assessment by the US intelligence community in October that Russia was behind the intrusions, Trump and his staff continue to voice doubts.

“The idea that we’re jumping to conclusions before we have a final report is, frankly, irresponsible,” Trump’s incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security released a report last week that they said “provides technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the US election.”

The report added that the Russian culprits also have historically targeted “a range of US government, political, and private sector entities” using similar tactics.