Key officials from the FBI and the Democratic National Committee provided strikingly contradictory accounts about their cooperation in connection to the alleged hack of the DNC servers in 2016, according to newly declassified transcripts.
The top two FBI officials at the time of the alleged hack—James Comey and Andrew McCabe—claimed that the DNC denied numerous requests from the FBI for evidence related to the hack. Meanwhile, the two top technology officials at the DNC—Yared Tamene and Andrew Brown—claimed that the committee fully cooperated with every FBI request.
The stark contrast in the accounts from key players raises new questions about the alleged hack of the DNC systems that served as the foundational theme in the now-disproven narrative of alleged collusion between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia.
McCabe, who served as the deputy director of the FBI at the time of the alleged hack, told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Dec. 19, 2017, that the DNC never responded to the FBI’s early warnings about a potential Russian intrusion and failed to provide logs requested by the bureau. The former deputy director also said he wasn’t aware of the DNC handing over server images to the bureau.
“We had over a course of many months numerous interactions with the DNC. This is the best of my recollection as to how that took place. I have described how the early interactions took place and were not productive,” McCabe told lawmakers, according to a transcript (pdf) of his sworn testimony.
“Eventually, we kind of escalated our contact with individuals at the DNC. My best recollection is that we requested that sort of access to logs, things of that nature, and we did not get that.”
DNC information technology director Tamene offered directly contradictory testimony on Aug. 30, 2017. Tamene told lawmakers that he cooperated with the FBI on at least a monthly basis beginning in September 2015, when a bureau agent reached out with a warning that hackers may have targeted the DNC.
The cooperation included in-person meetings and regular calls during which Tamene reported the findings of his team to the FBI. When the FBI requested email metadata logs from the DNC, Tamene escalated the request to his bosses and, with their approval, handed the logs over to the FBI on April 29, 2016, according to a recently declassified transcript (pdf) of his testimony.
The testimony of DNC technology director Brown, also given on Aug. 30, 2017, corroborates Tamene’s account. Brown told lawmakers that Tamene notified him about the FBI’s initial call in September 2015 and kept him updated about the ongoing cooperation. Brown notified DNC CEO Amy Dacey about the FBI’s warnings.
“We fully cooperated with the FBI in every request they made along the way, and we took everything they gave us seriously,” Brown said, according to a transcript (pdf) of his testimony.
The testimonies by Brown and Tamene also contradict the version of events aired by Comey to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January 2017. Comey told lawmakers that the DNC declined several FBI requests for access to physical DNC servers.
Tamene and Brown weren’t the only ones to contradict top officials at the FBI. Michael Sussman, the outside legal counsel for DNC, testified that Dacey told the FBI that the bureau “could have access to anything they needed.” The FBI declined the offer to access the physical servers, according to a transcript of Sussman’s testimony (pdf).
“And I recall offering, or asking or offering to the FBI to come on premises, and they were not interested in coming on premises at the time,” Sussman said.
Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike Services, the private cybersecurity firm contracted on behalf of the DNC to address the alleged hack, likewise testified he was “not aware” of the FBI ever asking or being denied any information or access to the DNC servers, according to a transcript (pdf) of his testimony.
Henry coordinated the cybersecurity firm’s work with the DNC, Perkins Coie, and the FBI. Henry told the House Intelligence Committee in December 2017 that he was “not aware” of the FBI ever asking for or being denied any information or access to the DNC servers, according to a transcript (pdf) newly declassified on May 7 alongside Sussman’s deposition. Henry also said he was “not aware of the FBI asking the DNC for data.”
The FBI, the DNC, CrowdStrike, and the attorneys for Comey and McCabe didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.
The revelation about the clashing accounts arrives at a time when other elements of the Russia-collusion narrative are falling apart. The Justice Department moved to dismiss the special counsel against former national security adviser Michael Flynn earlier this month. In March, the government moved to drop the charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against the Russian firms accused of meddling in the election via a social media campaign.
The social media charges were alleged by the special counsel to be part of a two-pronged Russian interference campaign to influence U.S. elections. Mueller charged a group of Russians in 2018 with the hack of the DNC servers and the subsequent theft and dissemination of tens of thousands of DNC emails. The charges, which remain alleged, relied in part on the software images of the DNC servers the FBI obtained prior to Mueller’s appointment. According to Tamene, the DNC handed the images over to the FBI via CrowdStrike in May and June of 2016. The FBI never examined the physical DNC servers.
Henry told lawmakers during his interview that his firm didn’t have evidence that the alleged hackers took any emails off the DNC network.
“There’s not evidence that they were actually exfiltrated,” Henry said. “There’s circumstantial evidence, but no evidence that they were actually exfiltrated.”
According to the charges brought by the special counsel, the hackers breached a DNC server and stole thousands of emails on or about May 25 to June 1, 2016. In his final report, Mueller softened the language, alleging that the hackers “appear to have stolen thousands of emails.”
During the timeframe of the alleged email theft, CrowdStrike had already installed its software on all DNC servers, identified the alleged hackers, and was actively monitoring their activity. In response to a request to explain how the hackers pilfered the emails on its watch without leaving a trace, CrowdStrike pointed to a portion of Henry’s testimony that addressed neither query.
“So the analysis started the first day or two in May, and then that was about 4 to 6 weeks, I think, on June 10th, we started what we call the remediation event. So we collected enough intelligence. We identified where the adversaries were in the environment. We came up with a remediation plan to say we see them in multiple locations.
“These are the actions that we need to execute in order to put a new infrastructure in place and to ensure that the adversaries don’t have access to the new infrastructure. So that would have been June 10th when we started. And we did the remediation event over a couple of days,” Henry said.
A CrowdStrike spokeswoman, referencing the period after the alleged hack, wrote in an email to The Epoch Times that, “to be clear, there is no indication of any subsequent breaches taking place on the DNC’s corporate network or any machines protected by CrowdStrike Falcon.”