Although there is no evidence to support their claims, staunch Democrats and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton congressional surrogates Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, John Conyers, Jr., Elliot L. Engel and Bennie G. Thompson, ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security, implied in a statement that there’s “evidence that the [Donald] Trump campaign apparently knew months beforehand about the hacking of emails from the account of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.
They stated, “Troubling new evidence appears to show that the Trump campaign not only was aware of cyber attacks against Secretary Clinton’s campaign chairman, but was openly bragging about it as far back as August.”
Trump did state at a press conference in Florida, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” He was, of course, referring to more than 30,000 emails on one of Clinton’s private email servers that purportedly were expunged after receiving a subpoeana for them.
While there’s no evidence that Trump in any way was involved in the hacks into Clinton Democratic campaign officials or members’ email accounts or servers, Cummings, Conyers, Engel and Thompson nevertheless stated in their joint statement that, “For months we have been asking the FBI to examine links between the Trump campaign and illegal Russian efforts to affect our election, including interviewing Trump advisor Roger Stone. In light of this new evidence—and these exceptional circumstances—we call on the FBI to fully investigate and explain to the American people what steps it is taking to disrupt this ongoing criminal activity. Elections are the bedrock of our nation’s democracy and amodel we hold out to the world, so we must counter any foreign or domestic efforts to threaten the integrity of our electoral process.”
By focusing on alleged collusion between Trump and Russia to hack Clinton campaign officials’ emails for the purpose of unproven claims to exploit the upcoming presidential election in Trump’s favor, Cummings, Conyers, Engel, Thompson and others have largely ignored addressing the thousands of leaked Clinton campaign-related emails that raise truly legitimate questions about the Democratic campaign’s efforts to manipulate election activities on Clinton’s behalf. Many of the leaked emails are damning. But rather than trying to explain or defend them – or denying that they’re not authentic – Democratic campaign officials have pivoted by saying the emails and other leaked documents were “stolen.” Stolen, however, doesn’t belie the fact that the leaked materials aren’t genuine.
The FBI hasn’t commented on whether it’s investigating any connection between the Trump campaign and Russia’s reputed hacking of Democratic email accounts and servers. Senior intelligence officials familiar with the matter told Homeland Security Today on background the FBI “so far isn’t taking seriously any of the accusations that [Trump] was in any way involved with the hacking … that’s just somehow hard to swallow given the criminal consequences.”
The official also added that while Intelligence Community components believe Russia was behind the hacks, “no one I know of can actually say with certainty that these were Kremlin directed, or were even performed by Russian hackers.”
Nevertheless, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said the Intelligence Community has direct evidence that Russian hackers were responsible.
Earlier, on August 30, 2016, Cummings, Conyers, Engel and Thompson wrote FBI Director James Comey requesting the FBI assess whether connections between the Trump campaign and Russian interests contributed to cyber attacks against the Democratic campaign organizations to interfere with the election, again ignoring their own party’s apparent interference as revealed in leaked Democratic campaign members’ emails and documents.
“It is unclear whether US law enforcement authorities have interviewed Mr. Stone about his communications with Mr. [Wikileaks founder Julian] Assange or about his knowledge of how WikiLeaks obtained the illegally-hacked documents.”
On September 28, Comey told the House Committee on the Judiciary he would not answer questions about any investigation regarding these matters, other than saying the FBI is examining “just what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election.”
Cummings, Conyers, Engel and Thompson’s evidence in their latest letter to the FBI asking for an investigation between Trump and Russian hackers involved Trump adviser Roger Stone, who they stated “sent out messages on Twitter indicating that he had been informed personally about upcoming cyber attacks on campaign chairman John Podesta.”
They pointed out that:
- On August 14, 2016, Stone wrote: “@JohnPodesta makes @PaulManafort look like St. Thomas Aquinas Where is the @NewYorkTimes?”
- On August 21, 2016, Stone tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon the [sic] Podesta’s time in the barrel.#CrookedHillary”
- On October 3, 2016, Stone tweeted: “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp.”
“Four days later, on October 7, 2016, Cummings, Conyers, Engel and Thompson said, “WikiLeaks publicly released emails illegally hacked from Podesta’s email account.”
They further noted that, “Stone has stated repeatedly in public appearances that he communicates directly and through back channels with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange … On August 8, 2016, Stone stated publicly that he ‘communicated with’ Assange about the upcoming release of illegally-hacked emails. Stone made these statements during a Republican campaign event while answering a question about a potential ‘October surprise.’”
Cummings, Conyers, Engel and Thompson further noted that, “On August 13, 2016, Stone stated publicly that his own email accounts had been hacked ‘as soon as it became publicly known that I was in communication with Julian Assange.’”
And, “On October 12, 2016, Stone stated publicly: ‘I do have a back-channel communication with Assange.’”
On October 7, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence [ODNI] and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement saying, “The US Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
Neither the ODNI or DHS, though, has given any indication that they believe there was any collusion between Trump and presumed Russian state sponsored hackers.