Accessibility links

Breaking News

Report: US Congress Knew of Russian Plans to Hack DNC Last Year

FILE - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
FILE - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

U.S. House of Representative Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says Russia is clearly behind cyberattacks on her party.

She made the comment Thursday, and said the widespread damage to the Democratic Party is being investigated.

Last year, officials within the U.S. intelligence community informed several high-ranking members of Congress that Russian hackers were attempting to breach the Democratic National Committee’s computers.

According to a report from Reuters, those members of Congress who were informed of the hacking couldn’t reveal the plans to the DNC because the information was too sensitive. Instead, U.S. intelligence agencies continued to monitor the hackers to gain insight into their tactics.

The Obama administration has not publicly announced that Russia was behind the attack, but investigators say Russian spy agencies are responsible. Russia has denied any involvement.

Knowledge of the hack didn’t become public knowledge until last month when WikiLeaks published emails obtained from the DNC online, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it was investigating the incident.

Revelations from the hack eventually led to the resignation of DNC chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and several other high-ranking officials after emails appeared to show the organization working to unfairly support Hillary Clinton over her former rival Bernie Sanders during the Democrat primary process.

Pelosi on Thursday called the cyber-attacks an “electric Watergate” – a reference to the 1972 break-in at the Democrat headquarters located in the Watergate office building in Washington that eventually led to the resignation of president Richard Nixon.

“This is a break-in and I think that we have to recognize what is happening here,” Pelosi told reporters at a news conference. “Now who are the Russians broke in? Who did they give the information to? I don't know. Who dumped it? I don't know. But I do know that this is a Watergate-like electronic break-in and anyone who would exploit for the purpose of embarrassment or something like that is an accomplice to that."

After gaining access to the DNC servers, the hackers were later able to penetrate further into other party organizations, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and others.

DNC officials first learned of the attack last year when an FBI cybersecurity team asked about the organization’s cybersecurity protocols. According to a memo obtained by Reuters, the DNC has created a new cybersecurity advisory board to try and prevent any further damage.