Yesterday, the headline of a Politico.com story was "Exclusive: Emails of top NRCC officials stolen in major 2018 hack". The highlights of the story:
- In April 2018, a vendor for the National Republican Congressional Committee detected an intrusion that had allowed hackers to access emails for four senior NRCC aides.
- The vendor alerted the committee and its cybersecurity firm, an internal investigation was initiated and the FBI was alerted about the attack.
- Top Republican officials including Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise were unaware of the hack until Politico contacted them for their story. According to Politico, rank and file Republicans were also not told of the hack.
- An NRCC PR firm spokesperson said he would not comment on the attack during the investigation. The FBI also declined to comment.
Sound familiar? A political party's emails were hacked, an internal investigation was conducted, and even the FBI's later involvement did not result in definitive answers about what may have happened - it's an outline of what happened with the Democratic National Party in 2016.
Full disclosure: I am extremely skeptical of any story that relies on anonymous sources for the basis of the story. Citing three anonymous sources, as the Politico story does, is only done in an effort to gain readers' trust in the story. Is it possible that the top Republican officials were "not informed of the attack" because it didn't actually happen?!
Also, I am always equally skeptical of the timing of stories. If the story is fake, why is it released now? The answer: Former FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this Friday and one of the topics will be the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server and Comey's decision not to pursue criminal charges against her.
The Politico story says "(Republican) Committee officials said they decided to withhold the information because they were intent on conducting their own investigation and feared that revealing the hack would compromise efforts to find the culprit.
That statement and all the other information in the Politico story are all Comey and the Democrats need to explain away any of Comey's actions. Afterall, if the Republicans managed a hack exactly how the Democrats did, how can there be any criticism of the FBI's unwillingness to investigate Hillary's private server (and the eventual destruction of the server and the electronic devices connected to it) more thoroughly?