FBI Director James Comey said his agency requested access to Democratic National Committee servers and former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s device that were allegedly hacked by Russian state actors during the 2016 election.
Emails sourced from the DNC and Podesta were then allegedly posted on WikiLeaks last year, according to U.S. intelligence officials. However, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and operative Craig Murray have denied that Russia was behind the email leaks. Murray suggested the emails came from someone within the Democratic Party.
But the FBI repeatedly requested access to Podesta’s smartphone, which apparently fell on deaf ears, Comey said at a U.S. Senate hearing, according to Fox News. He had to instead rely on findings from a highly respected private company,” Comey added.
Meanwhile, there were “multiple requests at different levels” for access to the devices, Comey said, as quoted by CBS News. “Ultimately what was agreed to is the private company would share with us what they saw,” he said, referring to CrowdStrike, a private security firm.
“Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server involved,” he said.
Comey said neither Podesta or the DNC elaborated on why the FBI was denied access.
Intelligence officials believe Russian hackers accessed the DNC’s server as early as 2015 and gathered documents.
Comey, in the hearing, said Russians also hacked Republican groups and campaigns.
“There was evidence of hacking directed at state-level organizations, state-level campaigns, and the RNC, but old domains of the RNC, meaning old emails they weren’t using. None of that was released,” he said. And Comey noted that Russian hackers “got far deeper and wider into the (Democratic National Committee) than the RNC” and noted that “similar techniques were used in both cases.”