Just how much are the WikiLeaks revelations about the internal emails of the DNC an orchestrated plot by Russia to help Donald Trump and his Putin-friendly campaign manager Paul Manafort assume the reins of power?
It’s hard to tell, but there are some serious questions to be asked.
According to Yahoo, Democratic National Committee consultant Alexandra Chalupa was attempting to prepare research on Manafort’s efforst on behalf of pro-Russian political leaders in Ukraine for the DNC last spring when a pop-up box from a Yahoo security team appeared on her screen reading, “Important action required. We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”
Bob Lord, Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer, said via Tumblr, “Rest assured we only send these notifications of suspected attacks by state-sponsored actors when we have a high degree of confidence.” As Joshua Yasmeh of The Daily Wire has reported, “a comprehensive analysis by Fidelis Cybersecurity has confirmed Russian intelligence agencies were at least partially involved, or had knowledge of, the DNC hack.”
Chalupa sent an email to Luis Miranda, the DNC’s communications director, with screengrab of the warning. She wrote:
I spoke to a delegation of 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine last Wednesday at the Library of Congress - the Open World Society's forum - they put me on the program to speak specifically about Paul Manafort and I invited Michael Isikoff whom I've been working with for the past few weeks and connected him to the Ukrainians. More offline tomorrow since there is a big Trump component you and Lauren need to be aware of that will hit in next few weeks and something I'm working on you should be aware of. Since I started digging into Manafort these messages have been a daily occurrence on my yahoo account despite changing my password often.
Chalupa had been interviewing sources in Kiev, Ukraine, including a number of investigative journalists, who were informing her about Manafort’s political and business efforts in Ukraine and Russia. A source within the Democratic Party told Yahoo, “That’s when we knew it was the Russians … we told her to stop her research.”
In 2010, Manafort helped pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych, a close ally of Valimir Putin’s, win a presidential election in Ukraine. David Kramer, a top state department official handling Ukrainian and Russian issues for George W Bush, said, “Advising Yanukovych is like putting lipstick on a pig,” adding Yanukovych was “someone who was involved in massive corruption and had blood on his hands”
On Sunday, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook accused “Russian state actors” of hacking into the DNC to help Trump, prompting Manafort to call the charges “absurd” and “crazy.” He snapped on ABCs This Week that Mook’s claims were “pure obfuscation on the part of the Clinton campaign.”
Yet in mid-June, CrowdStrike, an outside security firm retained by the DNC, reported that the hackers who targeted the DNC came from Russia’s security services: the FSB, Russia’s equivalent of the FBI, and GRU, the country’s military intelligence agency. CrowdStrike compared the hacks on the DNC to previous cyberintrusions of unclassified systems at the White House, the State Department and the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To make matters more interesting, the exfiltration of files took place during standard Moscow business hours.
“Important action required. We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”
Message appearing on DNC staffer's computer when she was investigating Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort
Yahoo speculates that there may be a connection between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Russians, as Assange has hosted a talk show on RT, the Russian government’s television network. Assange has threatened Clinton by boasting he will post more emails that will “provide enough evidence” to get her arrested.
One Democratic Party security source said bluntly, “This is the Russians screwing with the integrity of our election process.”