The Russian Hack of the DNC

Nickolay Vinokurov / Shutterstock.com

U.S. intelligence officials accused Russia Friday of orchestrating the July hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, reaffirming speculation that Moscow played a role in the breach that resulted in the release of thousands of DNC staff emails.

In a joint statement by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. government said it is “confident” the Russian government played a role in the hack aimed at interfering with the ongoing presidential election. Here’s more from the statement:

The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

But the statement added that the U.S. intelligence committee and DHS “assess that it would be extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyber attack or intrusion.” 

U.S. officials have long said Moscow was behind the breach that resulted in a leak of nearly 20,000 DNC emails—obtained by a hacker known as “Guccifer 2.0” and published by Wikileaks—which revealed DNC staffers favored Hillary Clinton over then-rival Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination; the leaks led to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the committee’s chair.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, denied his government’s involvement with the breach. When asked about the breach last month, he told Bloomberg: “I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this.” He added: “Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data? The important thing is the content that was given to the public.’’

The issue made its way to the first presidential debate between Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump. Trump, who has praised the Russian leadershipand whose now-former top aide had close ties to Russia, said it wasn’t clear Moscow was behind the hack.

“She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia,” he said during the debate. “I don't—maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds, OK?”

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