Prior to the publication of the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, the DNC server intrusion and the Podesta email account “hack” were put forward as the first pieces of evidence that Russia was running a weaponized cyber campaign to support then-candidate Trump. But what if these hacking allegations are entirely baseless, just like the “salacious and unverified” allegations in the infamous dossier?
At the tail end of the 2016 presidential election season, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) spun the mainstream media into a frenzy by announcing that its servers had been hacked. The supposedly shocking news came just months after the Gmail account of Hillary Clinton campaign chief John Podesta was “hacked,” resulting in his emails falling into the hands of WikiLeaks. Shortly thereafter, most of the media reported as fact the DNC’s determination that “the Russians” were responsible for the hacking of both the DNC and the Podesta email account.
Not bad enough that I was the victim of a massive cyber crime directed by the Russian President (1/3)
— John Podesta (@johnpodesta) October 31, 2017
Since then, many in the media have long concluded, based on the word of a political organization, that Vladimir Putin’s Russia was all in on then-candidate Trump’s electoral ambitions. This of course proved the wild conspiracies in the “Trump-Russia” dossier, too, they rationalized.
Those arguing that the dossier triggered the FBI probe — and those pushing back — always overlook the fact that the DNC was hacked by Russia and its content was then farmed out to WikiLeaks. The hack is at the center of Russia's interference and yet it's barely mentioned.
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 11, 2018
DCCC now publicly confirming it has been hacked and has been advised incident similar to DNC hack. Investigation ongoing.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 29, 2016
Papadopoulos complaint says Russians offered him "dirt" –thousands of emails–in April 2016, well before Russian hack of DNC was known.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) October 30, 2017
The Podesta hack was really a consequence of historically awful information security and complete ignorance. The Clinton campaign chairman was suckered into an amateurish phishing scam, which was reported inaccurately as a sophisticated state-sponsored operation. It was later discovered that his email password was the word “password.”
It has been over a year since the DNC claimed the Russians hacked their servers.
Throughout the past year, the DNC has consistently insisted that the organization was the victim of a major Russian infiltration effort.
Shortly after the time of the reported hack, signs emerged that something was a bit off. The FBI was denied access to the DNC servers. Therefore, federal law enforcement was never able to make an independent determination about what happened. “This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information,” a frustrated FBI official vented in reaction to the hacking claims. Even President Obama described the hack as “not particularly sophisticated.”
“This was not some elaborate, complicated espionage scheme,” Obama added.
Obama in Dec 2016 admitted that the DNC hacking and news “manipulations were not particularly sophisticated. This was not some elaborate, complicated espionage scheme.” Yet here we are 14 months later still going nuts about Russia “meddling.”pic.twitter.com/ka0JV1HwjJ
— Yossi Gestetner (@YossiGestetner) February 14, 2018
Moreover, Crowdstrike, the third-party cybersecurity outfit tasked with determining that the Russians hacked the DNC servers, has several organizational ties to passionate supporters of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
Now, BuzzFeed, which published the political opposition document known informally as the Trump-Russia dossier, is suing the DNC in hopes that they’ll turn over evidence that shows the Russians hacked the organization. BuzzFeed is in the heat of a libel suit for publishing the completely unproven dossier and apparently hopes that the DNC can support its outlandish claims.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 14, 2018
The DNC, however, has chosen not to comply. It claims that providing evidence for the Russian hack would render the organization vulnerable to further hacking.
To recap: The DNC has claimed, without a shred of evidence, that Russians hacked the DNC as part of a sophisticated cyber campaign that threatens the foundations of our republic. All we really know thus far is that John Podesta did not follow basic protocol in securing his email address and that the DNC has not produced any evidence to verify its claims. It could also very well be the case that Russian hackers indeed got to the Democrat entities. However, there is still no evidence that the campaign required much sophistication or that it was directed from the top echelons of the Kremlin.