NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Russia on Thursday was denying claims that it meddled in U.S. elections, but CBS News has learned that the orders to hack Democratic computers came from the highest levels of the Kremlin.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, President-elect Donald Trump was once again dismissive of the claims Thursday.
U.S. intelligence sources said when Russian hackers broke into Democratic email systems in July 2015, they did so under orders from the Kremlin.
The sources told CBS News the attack could not have happened without Russian President Vladimir Putin’s blessing saying, “The orders to do it would have had to come from the highest level.”
“My own belief is that I do think the Russians were involved as far as hacking the Democratic National Committee,” said Long Island U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
But after meeting with the President-elect at Trump Tower, King insisted the question of motive is still not clear.
“But I do know that all of the intelligence agencies that have briefed us up till now said that they do not know what the motive was — other than to just disrupt the elections and create doubt among the American people, so that no matter who won, there would be a cloud over that person,” King said.
In a tweet on Thursday, Trump questioned the motives of the White House in calling for an investigation into the alleged hacking.
The White House has suggested Donald Trump knew Russia was behind the hacks when he invited the country to find Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.
On Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest put the onus on Trump.
“There are others on the outside who are raising these questions and apparently, that has struck a nerve with the president-elect’s team. One way to get to deal with that is to start answering these questions,” Earnest said.
At a rally Thursday night in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Trump took aim at Earnest for the remarks.
“Having the right press secretary is so important, because he is so bad the way he delivers a message,” Trump said. “He can deliver a positive message and it sounds bad.”
In spite of Trump’s tweet that the White House waited till after the election to name Russia as the source of the attack, the White House in fact did name Russia before the election in October. But the White House also waited months to do so.
The Obama administration said it waited in order to keep political pressure off the intelligence community.