Donald Trump has flat-out denied that Russian hackers may have helped him win the election. His refusals to believe run so deep that he’s forgotten how he encouraged Russia to unveil Clinton emails. This won’t help the spreading Republican freakout, which now includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who spent Monday morning expressing support for an inquiry into Russian hacking of the election.
All of this fuss followed the secret CIA report that fingered Russia for multiple maneuvers, including hacked DNC emails. Many of the resulting Wikileaks email dumps may have sourced from a successful phishing attempt on Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, and now, a new report says such phishing attempts hammered away at Clinton staffers on an unyielding basis for months.
Yahoo spoke with a cybersecurity firm hired by the Clinton campaign along with multiple Clinton staffers. What the discussions yielded was a series of suspected attempts by Russia that continued right up until the election:
The attacks came in the form of so-called “phishing” emails sent to up to nearly a dozen campaign and committee staffers in a renewed effort at penetrating their networks, said Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to repel attacks on its network. Staffers at that point were alert enough to reject entreaties to click on the unsolicited email messages that would have allowed the hackers into their computers, he said.
But at least one top Clinton campaign staffer, communications director Jennifer Palmieri, told Yahoo News Sunday that she received an alert from Google in mid-October informing her that her personal Gmail account had been targeted by a “foreign state” actor and that her password needed to be changed.
“They were targeting us throughout the election,” said another former senior Clinton campaign staffer, who asked not to be identified. “They never stopped trying to get back in.”
These tactics sound very familiar to CNN’s October report about the apparent phishing email that not only tricked Podesta but looked “so sophisticated that it fooled the campaign’s own IT staffers,” who reportedly told Podesta that it was a legit email about stepping up his passwords. Did the email that tricked Podesta resemble the (seemingly) real Google alert that Palmieri received? What a muddled mess.
Meanwhile, the White House has joined the discussion by strongly suggesting that Trump benefited from Russian hacking maneuvers. Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, “The emails that had been hacked and leaked by the Russians, these were emails from the (Democratic National Committee) and John Podesta, not from the (Republican National Committee) and Stephen Bannon.” Earnest also pointed out that Trump praised Vladimir Putin as a “strong leader,” and he urged Congress to commence an investigation.