The Mueller report reveals that Russian hacking efforts against the Hillary Clinton campaign predated then-candidate Donald Trump’s joking request that Moscow try to find the thousands of emails from the former the secretary of state’s private server that were not turned over to the federal government after she left office.
Following the release of Democratic National Committee emails by WikiLeaks in July 2016 — which the Mueller report points to Russian government operatives as likely obtaining — Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails (from Hillary Clinton) that are missing. I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
The businessman further said that he had no idea whether Russia was behind the hacks, and when he was later questioned about his remarks, he said his statement was clearly sarcastic.
During a congressional hearing last month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff pointed to Trump’s statement as an example of him colluding with Russia.
According to the Mueller report, “Within approximately five hours of Trump’s statement, GRU officers targeted for the first time Clinton’s personal office. After candidate Trump’s remarks, (GRU) Unit 26165 created and sent malicious links targeting 15 email accounts at the domain including an email account belonging to a Clinton aide.
“The investigation did not find evidence of earlier GRU attempts to compromise accounts hosted on this domain. It is unclear how the GRU was able to identify these email accounts, which were not public.”
However, Mueller’s investigators determined that efforts to hack Clinton and the Democratic National Committee had been going on for months before Trump made his statement.
“GRU officers also sent hundreds of spearphishing emails to work and personal email accounts of Clinton Campaign employees and volunteers,” the report reads. “Between March 10, 2016 and March 15, 2016, Unit 26165 appears to have sent approximately 90 spearphishing emails to email accounts at hillaryclinton.com.
“Starting on March 15, 2016, the GRU began targeting Google emails accounts used by Clinton Campaign employees, along with a smaller number of dnc.org email accounts.”
The investigators concluded by April 18, 2016, GRU operatives had gained access to the DNC network, which it maintained through June 8, 2016.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2017 that Russian hackers were not successful in hacking the Republican National Committee or the Trump campaign, though they attempted to do so, RealClearInvestigations reported.
“Spearphishing techniques were used in both cases,” he said, “but there’s no doubt they were more successful in [penetrating] the DNC.”
Russians successfully accessed state-level Republican candidates and organizations, according to Comey.
“Reince Priebus, RNC chairman at the time, said that the Russian efforts against the GOP were less effective because his operatives did a better job of securing their computer networks,” according to RealClearInvestigations.
“It just so happened that the DNC had nearly no defenses on their system, and when they were warned multiple times by the FBI, they didn’t respond,” Priebus said in January 2017.
The section titled “Russian Hacking and Dumping Operations” in the redacted Mueller report does not address hacking efforts targeting at the Republican Party or the Trump campaign, which would lead one to believe the Russian activity in this arena was entirely directed at Democrats.
Trump highlighted on Friday, as he did multiple times throughout the investigation, that Mueller’s prosecutorial team, which drafted the report, had no known Republicans.
“Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue. Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.
Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue. Watch out for people that take so-called “notes,” when the notes never existed until needed. Because I never….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 19, 2019
“Because I never agreed to testify, it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the ‘Report’ about me, some of which are total bulls–t & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad),” he added. “This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened.”
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