Intel chief: Foreign hackers trying to spy on presidential campaigns

Intel chief: Foreign hackers trying to spy on presidential campaigns
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U.S. intelligence officials are seeing “some indications” that foreign hackers are trying to get access to leading presidential campaigns, the nation’s top intelligence officer warned on Wednesday.

And the problem is only likely to grow, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.


"As the campaigns intensify, we'll probably have more," Clapper said at an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, according to multiple reports.

Lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee have seen “the same information,” Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House CIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (D-Calif.) said later in the day.

“Given the intense scrutiny paid to the 2016 campaign — and the broad implications for U.S. foreign policy — it’s no surprise that actors are launching cyber-attacks against presidential campaigns,” added Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence panel, in a statement.

The frenzy of cyber activity, which might lead back to foreign governments, is part of a growing trend.

In 2008 and 2012, President Obama’s campaign and those of GOP presidential nominees John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE and Mitt Romney faced a flurry of cyberattacks that tried to access internal documents and policy suggestions. The attacks were suspected to be tied to foreign nations such as China, as well as online activist groups including Anonymous. For hackers, private campaign documents can reveal a potential president’s thoughts about sensitive subjects and also provide reams of potentially embarrassing material.

This time around, officials with the FBI and Homeland Security Department “are doing what they can to educate both campaigns against potential cyber threats,” Clapper said.

Clapper, as the nation’s top spy, is responsible for overseeing the process of giving the Republican and Democratic nominees classified briefings ahead of the election.

News that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, would receive sensitive information in coming months has alarmed his critics, who warn that he would not take appropriate steps to safeguard the information. Trump has proposed radical steps on national security, such as banning Muslims from entering the country, which have worried Republicans and Democrats alike.

On Wednesday, Clapper maintained that the briefing process would not seek to shape Trump or any other candidate’s views.

“We’ve been doing this for many years, and it’s not designed to shape anybody’s world view,” he said.

Concerns about candidates’ abilities to protect sensitive information have heightened this year, following months of scrutiny on likely Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Armageddon elections to come Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' MORE’s use of a private email server throughout her tenure as secretary of State.

Updated at 5:44 p.m.