A new bombshell report from the New York Times shows that the FBI was aware of the Russian cyber attack of the DNC in September of 2015, more than a year before the election.
More from the Times:
When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.
His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.
The New York Times notes that this was the first red flag that the presidential election in the United States was, for the first time ever, being influenced by a foreign government. In this case, it was Russia – a country led by a man, Vladimir Putin, that President-elect Donald Trump has nothing but praise for.
More from the report:
It was the cryptic first sign of a cyberespionage and information-warfare campaign devised to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, the first such attempt by a foreign power in American history. What started as an information-gathering operation, intelligence officials believe, ultimately morphed into an effort to harm one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and tip the election to her opponent, Donald J. Trump.
While Russia’s effort to swing the presidential election toward Trump was bad enough, the lethargic response from the FBI – and the fact that they chose to focus heavily on Hillary Clinton’s emails, instead of foreign involvement in an election – was particularly troubling.
The low-key approach of the F.B.I. meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through the committee’s network for nearly seven months before top D.N.C. officials were alerted to the attack and hired cyberexperts to protect their systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the D.N.C., including Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, whose private email account was hacked months later.
It is now clear that Russia did influence the presidential election in a way that was decisive given how close the final tally was between the two major candidates. In fact, stats guru Nate Silver pointed out that it likely cost Clinton key battleground states and, ultimately, the presidency:
Clinton lost 4 states (FL, MI, WI, PA) by ~1 point. If not for Comey/Russia, she probably wins them all by ~2 points & strategy looks great.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 10, 2016
While Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and just about matched Barack Obama’s 2012 vote total, her razor-thin losses in a handful of swing states cost her an Electoral College victory.
It is almost a certainty that the FBI’s hyping of Clinton’s emails combined with their downplaying of Russian meddling was enough to very narrowly swing the election toward Trump.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.