Anonymous U.S. intelligence sources cited by NBC News say the White House has ordered a special intelligence task force to look into Russia's recent hacks of various Democratic political organizations.
"The classified national study is being conducted by the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee, a Cold War-era organization that is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence," the officials told NBC News.
The committee traditionally has advised the DNI on foreign attempts to thwart U.S. intelligence through trickery. But in the cyber era, the committee has increasingly looked at how nation states use computer attacks to conduct espionage and spread propaganda.
Russia, China, North Korea, Iran are primary subjects, the officials said.
The consensus among U.S. intelligence analysts is that Russia is seeking to undermine confidence in the U.S. system, using the hacks into the Democratic National Committee, state election systems and other targets that have yet to be made public, as part of a larger campaign. Whether Russia can directly manipulate voting machines or "hack" into election systems, they say, is not clear and is mainly outside the jurisdiction of U.S. intelligence.
And separately, Congress Democrats want the FBI to investigate whether Donald Trump's campaign might be connected to the cyberattacks presumed to have been carried out by Russia.
Ranking members of the House committees on oversight and government reform, judiciary, foreign affairs, and homeland security sent a letter today to FBI Director James Comey asking for the investigation.
"Serious questions have been raised about overt and covert actions by Trump campaign officials on behalf of Russian interests," they wrote. "It is critical for the American public to know whether those actions may have directly caused or indirectly motivated attacks against Democratic institutions and our fundamental election process."