WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. government said Friday that it "is confident" Russia orchestrated the recent hacks of various political figures and groups, including the Democratic National Committee.
The joint statement this afternoon from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says the dumps of emails onto sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks "are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts."
"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process," the statement reads. "Such activity is not new to Moscow - the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities."
The hacks, originally attributed to a hacker called Guccifer 2.0, unveiled a batch of emails from the Democratic National Committee just before the Democratic National Convention in July, leading to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz.
Some of the emails appeared to show the committee colluding with Hillary Clinton's campaign to defeat Sen. Bernie Sanders, an insurgent independent who proved a tougher-than-expected challenge to the former secretary of state's candidacy.
Russians denied any involvement in the intrusions when the committee first pointed its finger that way.
The suspicion that Russia was behind the hacks brought Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin under closer scrutiny. Trump has repeatedly praised Putin during the campaign and even invited Russia in July to find emails missing from the private email server Clinton used while secretary of state.
While the U.S. government's statement Friday acknowledges recent "probing" of state-level election systems, it insists the acts cannot yet be attributed to Russia and assures that it would be "extremely difficult" for anyone to alter election results in November.
The statement closes with a warning for states to "be vigilant" and a request for help on cybersecurity protections from the Department of Homeland Security.
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