The email hacking controversy arose in late July 2016 with the release of some 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails on WikiLeaks allegedly showing party leaders favoring the candidacy of Hillary Clinton over challenger Bernie Sanders.
Subsequent hacking incidents have targeted the Clinton campaign to negatively portray Clinton and her presidential bid, thus influencing U.S. voters.
On October 7, 2016, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement saying that Russia was responsible for the email intrusions.
“The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” the statement said.
The statement said the hacking “originated from servers operated by a Russian company.”
During the final U.S. presidential debate, held on October 19, Clinton was adamant that the Kremlin was behind the hacks, saying, “This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly, from Putin himself, in an effort, as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed, to influence our election.”
Despite the allegations, U.S. intelligence officials have not revealed to the public how they determined that the Russian government was responsible for the email hacking and leaks.
The White House announced on October 11 that President Barack Obama is planning a response to the hacking. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said “there are a range of responses that are available to the president, and he will consider a response that is proportional.” Earnest, however, did not detail what options the president might consider.