WASHINGTON — Federal investigators have refused to say whether the FBI has received access to the servers, hard drives, and other potential evidence from the Democratic National Committee to investigate whether Russia was responsible for infiltrating its networks.
The Democratic National Committee, which a DNC staffer said has sought the help of SKD Knickerbocker to handle its crisis communications, also refused to provide information on whether it has given the FBI access to its hacked computers. The bureau said Monday it was involved in investigating the probe. When asked by BuzzFeed News about the bureau's access to DNC servers, a spokesperson declined to comment and cited the ongoing investigation.
The cyberintrusion into the DNC’s servers was first revealed last month by the Washington Post. An independent investigation commissioned by the DNC concluded in June that two groups of Russian hackers had gained access to the committee’s networks for almost a year, and their infiltration was so complete they were able to access emails and chats between staffers. The hacking was largely under the radar until WikiLeaks published nearly 20,000 of the hacked emails last Friday, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
The FBI has also refused to say when it began looking into the incident, and whether they began their investigation when the hack was revealed last month or just since the first round of emails was released last Friday. Two lawmakers from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the FBI, sent a letter to the bureau Tuesday demanding to know the extent and details of the probe.
Federal officials — including anonymous intelligence officials and Clinton campaign staffers — have been suggesting since Monday that state-sponsored Russian hackers had infiltrated the DNC servers in order to embarrass the Democrats on the eve of their convention in Philadelphia, and co-opted WikiLeaks into a timely release to undermine Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.
“There is unquestionably bipartisan concern about the Russian government engaging in covert influence [sic] activities of this nature,” Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday. Wyden pointed to a recent measure introduced by the Intelligence panel, which seeks to revive a Cold War–era investigative body dedicated to unmasking secret Russian propaganda operations meant to influence foreign governments.
“My own judgment, talking to security specialists, given the political nature of these attacks, it’s going to be pretty important to look at who they benefit,” Wyden said.
But a week since the emails were released — and more than a month since the hack was first revealed — the FBI still does not have concrete evidence that Russia had a hand in the hack.
Mark Trainor, the assistant director of the FBI’s cyberdivision told CNN at a conference Tuesday that the facts did not yet support the conclusion that Russia was involved.