U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has expressed "grave" concern that Russia may be interfering in the U.S. election through cyberattacks on the Democratic Party and state voting systems.
"The fact that our intelligence professionals are now studying this and taking it seriously raises some grave questions about potential Russian interference with our electoral process," Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane on September 5.
"We are facing a very serious concern. We've never had a foreign adversarial power be already involved in our electoral process," she said.
Clinton suggested her opponent, Republican candidate Donald Trump, had a "bizarre attraction" to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other "dictators," and was either working with Russia or encouraging Russia to interfere.
"I think it's quite intriguing that this activity has happened around the time Trump became the nominee," she said. Trump "has generally parroted what is a Putin-Kremlin line."
"We've never had a nominee of one of our major parties urging the Russians to hack more," Clinton added, referring to a statement Trump made in July, after news emerged that Democratic Party e-mails were hacked. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing," he said.
Trump later said that he was making a joke about e-mails that Clinton allegedly deleted from her private server while she was secretary of state.
Clinton stressed that Russia's possible involvement in the election is not a joking matter.
A "consensus" of U.S. intelligence officials and experts believes the hacking and release of internal Democratic National Committee e-mails last spring was orchestrated by Russian intelligence, she said.
The FBI also is investigating whether Russian hackers intruded into the online voting systems of two U.S. states -- Arizona and Illinois -- and has alerted all 50 states to guard against such possible security breaches.
The Obama administration has shown "great restraint" in the face of evidence that Russia was involved and has not publicly called out Russia, Clinton said. But "we are going to have to take those threats and attacks seriously."
She called a Russian intrusion into the U.S. voting system "almost unthinkable," and said that Putin, who recently denied the Kremlin was involved in the hacking though he thought the release of the Democratic e-mails was a "public service," appeared "quite satisfied with himself."
The United States needs to "make clear that we're not going to let anyone interfere with the decisions of the American people," she said.
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters