Russian Government Officials Identified For Democratic National Committee Election Hacks

More than six Russian government officials have been identified by Department of Justice investigators for allegedly playing a role in hacking Democratic National Committee computers and leaking information during the 2016 race, according to a report on Thursday.

Justice Department prosecutors have gathered evidence on the Russian officials for what could be one of the most revealing discoveries yet about the Kremlin's election meddling, the Wall Street Journal reported. Dozens of other officials may have also participated. 

Charges are not expected to be filed until next year.

U.S. investigators have linked the high-profile cyber attack to Russian intelligence services but had not disclosed information about people who were allegedly responsible for the hack or how they came to the determinations.

Thousands of stolen DNC emails, including those from Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, appeared on WikiLeaks during the final stretch of the campaign.

The breach was a key piece in an assessment by U.S. intelligence community in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” Russia’s military-intelligence agency, the GRU, “probably began cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election by March 2016” and swiped “large volumes of data” by May, according to the assessment.

The Russian officials are being investigated separately from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the election, which earlier this week resulted in indictments against former Trump campaign members, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

The Justice Department and FBI have been investigating the DNC hack since last year.

Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. presidential election, despite the continuing evidence from U.S. intelligence agencies. President Donald Trump has refused to fully endorse the findings about Russian hacks and tweeted this week there was "NO COLLUSION" between the Kremlin and his campaign. 

The Justice Department has been bringing more cases against suspected hackers though they are unlikely to be arrested and prosecuted in the U.S. to make the allegations public and attempt to curb such acts.

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