Federal officials are now saying intelligence agencies have "high confidence" Russia was behind the hack, according to the New York Times. It is not yet clear whether the hack was explicitly meant to influence the 2016 election, officials say, or if it was a routine break-in common with cyberespionage.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has asserted he released the documents with the primary goal of harming Hillary Clinton's campaign, timing it to hurt her campaign as much as possible. Some have suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin's government approved the attack in an attempt to swing election towards Donald Trump, a candidate he has openly said he admires in the past. Obama said "anything is possible" when addressing the incident on MSNBC but has refrained thus far from accusing Putin outright.
Original story below.
During an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, alleged that pro-Trump Russian hackers are behind the Democratic National Committee email leak that badly damaged the party's image and contribued to Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resignation. The Clinton campaign has said before that the leak was perpetrated by Russian hackers, whose goal was to embarrass Clinton on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
A WikiLeaks dump last week made public a trove of nearly 20,000 emails, many of which showed top Democratic party leaders plotting against former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders during the primary season. One email, sent from DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall to top party communications staffers, revealed that party leaders were planning to use Sanders' religion against him.
The email read, in part, that "I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."
The scandal added more fuel to the argument that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had "rigged" the election against Sanders, to the advantage of alleged party favorite Hillary Clinton. Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she would step down from her post as DNC Chair after the Democratic National Convention ends on July 28.
A New York Times report published Sunday says that researchers "have concluded that the [Democratic] national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies ... And metadata from the released emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers."
Mook alleged that Russian hackers are motivated to help Trump win the presidency because of his pro-Russia policies. In an interview published last week also with the Times, Trump claimed he would not unconditionally defend NATO states should they come under attack from Russia. Critics of Trump's policy claim that it's devastating to even suggest a pivot away from the military alliance, which has existed for nearly 70 years.
A CBS reporter tweeted Monday afternoon that Trump had allegedly claimed that both Russia and China are behind the hack. A spokesperson from the Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment about that claim.
Earlier Monday morning, Trump denied Putin's alleged involvement in the DNC leak in a tweet published Monday morning, calling the reports "a joke":
Over the last week, Trump and his campaign have unequivocally denounced the notion that the candidate is somehow tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Trump shares a mutual admiration. The Times report continued:
“Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?” George Stephanopoulos, of “This Week,” asked Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman.
“No, there are not,” Mr. Manafort shot back. “That’s absurd. And, you know, there’s no basis to it.”
One of Mr. Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr., was more definitive, charging the Clinton camp with a smear campaign. “I can’t think of bigger lies,” he said on CNN. The younger Mr. Trump mockingly suggested that Mr. Mook’s “house cat at home once said this is what happened with the Russians.’’
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign pointed to comments made by campaign manager Paul Manafort, who told CNN's Erin Burnett that "Donald Trump is talking about the failed leadership of the Obama administration ... I don't know anything about what you just said. You may know it. If you do, expose it. But to say you know—I don't know what you're talking about. It is crazy."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed Monday afternoon that the agency is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC."
The July WikiLeaks dump is not the first time—even this election cycle—that the Democratic party has seen its personal comminiqués compromised. In June, a hacker called Guccifer 2.0 breached the DNC network, stealing opposition research against Donald Trump. CNN reports that "two separate Russian intelligence-linked cyberattack groups were both in the DNC's networks" at the time.
And on the eve of the DNC, the Democratic party seemed to be at war with itself. Thousands of convention attendees gathered to protest Clinton's nomination, marching through the streets and audibly chanting, "Hell no DNC, we won't vote for Hillary." (Clinton is poised to be the least popular Democratic candidate for president in modern political history.)
Protestors also spoke out against Wasserman Schultz's presence at the convention, with pro-Sanders voters reportedly heckling Wasserman Schultz during her Monday morning speech at the convention with chants of "shame."
Spokespeople for Clinton and Wasserman Schultz did not immediately return Complex's request for comment.