Report: Russian Hackers Targeted Republicans

December 19, 2016 Updated: December 19, 2016

Russian hackers allegedly targeted the servers of the Republican National Committee but weren’t able to get past its security defenses, according to a Wall Street Journal report, which comes days after the CIA claimed that Russian hackers breached Democratic servers.

The Journal, citing U.S. officials with knowledge of the attempted breach, said Russian hackers went after the RNC but their attempt was “less aggressive” and “less persistent” than their attack on the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. A former Republican official’s email was targeted in the attack.

The CIA, according to several media reports in the past week, claimed that Russian hackers targeted the Democrats to boost the chances of Clinton’s rival, President-elect Donald Trump, during the campaign.

“The possibility that Russians tried and failed to infiltrate the RNC doesn’t necessarily conflict with the CIA’s conclusion. A senior U.S. official said analysts now believe what started as an information-gathering campaign aimed at both parties later took on a focus of leaked emails about Mrs. Clinton and Democrats,” the Journal reported.

The RNC called on a private computer security firm, which called the FBI and received information about malicious emails that were being sent.

The Journal added: “Hackers who overran the DNC also successfully stole and then published emails from Republican state-level officials on a website, DCLeaks, that private security experts have linked to the Russian operation allegedly targeting the DNC and the presidential campaign of Mrs. Clinton. The leaked GOP emails received relatively little public attention and consisted of mostly mundane and innocuous correspondence, including inquiries and complaints sent by constituents to generic addresses.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told CNN last Wednesday that his email system was also hacked by Russians.

Meanwhile, it was reported that CIA Director John Brennan sent a letter to the agency’s workforce on Friday, saying that top intelligence officials, including Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and FBI Director James Comey met following the breach. “There is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” Brennan’s letter reads.

Top Senate officials have called for an investigation into the matter. The White House has also called for an internal review.

Craig Murray, an operative for WikiLeaks, however, denied that Russians were behind the leaked emails that were published by his organization.

“Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,” said Murray on Tuesday, according to the Daily Mail. “The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

He said the emails were given to the anti-secrecy organization via Americans who had access to the information through legitimate channels.

The leakers, he added, were pushed to release the emails out of “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.”