2016 Democratic National Committee email leak

The 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak is a collection of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails stolen by one or more hackers operating under the pseudonym "Guccifer 2.0" who are alleged to be Russian intelligence agency hackers, according to indictments carried out by the Mueller investigation.[1] These emails were subsequently published (leaked) by DCLeaks in June and July 2016[2] and by WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, just before the 2016 Democratic National Convention. This collection included 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the DNC, the governing body of the United States' Democratic Party.[3] The leak includes emails from seven key DNC staff members, and date from January 2015 to May 2016.[4]

Some of the leaked emails, although dating from late in the primary, when Hillary Clinton was already close to securing the nomination, revealed the DNC leadership's bias against Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in contradiction with their publicly stated neutrality,[5] as multiple DNC operatives seemed to deride Sanders' campaign and discussed ways to advance Clinton's nomination. The revelations prompted the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz before the Democratic National Convention.[6] The DNC issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders and his supporters "for the inexcusable remarks made over email" that did not reflect the DNC's "steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process."[7] After the convention, DNC CEO Amy Dacey, CFO Brad Marshall, and Communications Director Luis Miranda also resigned in the wake of the controversy.[8]

WikiLeaks did not reveal its source. Later Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, stated that the source of the emails was not Russia.[9] On July 13, 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents of a group known as Fancy Bear alleged to be responsible for the attack,[1] who were behind the Guccifer 2.0 pseudonym which claimed responsibility.[10] On November 6, 2016, WikiLeaks released a second batch of DNC emails, adding 8,263 emails to its collection.[11]

On December 9, 2016, the CIA told U.S. legislators that the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded Russia conducted operations during the 2016 U.S. election to prevent Hillary Clinton[12] from winning the presidency.[13] Multiple U.S intelligence agencies concluded people with direct ties to the Kremlin gave WikiLeaks hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.[13]

In June 2017, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who was appointed by and served under President Barack Obama, testified before a House Select committee that his department offered their assistance to the DNC during the campaign to determine what happened to their server, but said his efforts were "rebuffed" because the DHS was offering to provide assistance months after the FBI had provided assistance.[14][15]

Contents of leak

The emails leaked by Wikileaks, in two phases (the first on July 22, 2016 and the second on November 6, 2016),[16] revealed information about the DNC's interactions with the media, Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' campaigns, and financial contributions. It also includes personal information about the donors of the Democratic Party, including credit card and Social Security numbers, which could facilitate identity theft.[17][18] Earlier, in late June 2016, Guccifer 2.0 instructed reporters to visit the DCLeaks website for emails stolen from Democrats.[2] With the WikiLeaks disclosure of additional stolen emails beginning on July 22, 2016, more than 150,000 stolen emails from either personal Gmail addresses or via the DNC that were related to the Hillary Clinton 2016 Presidential campaign were published on the DCLeaks and WikiLeaks websites. On August 12, 2016, DCLeaks released information about more than 200 Democratic lawmakers, including their personal cellphone numbers.[19] The numerous prank calls that Hillary Clinton received from this disclosure along with the loss of her campaign's email security caused a very severe disruption of her campaign which subsequently changed their contact information on October 7, 2016, by calling each of her contacts one at a time.[2]

Media

The emails include DNC staff's "off-the-record" correspondence with media personalities, including the reporters at CNN,[20][21][22] Politico, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.[23]

Bernie Sanders' campaign

In the emails, DNC staffers derided the Sanders campaign.[24] The Washington Post reported: "Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. Basically, all of these examples came late in the primary—after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory—but they belie the national party committee's stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage."[5]

In a May 2016 email chain, the DNC chief financial officer (CFO) Brad Marshall told the DNC chief executive officer, Amy Dacy, that they should have someone from the media ask Sanders if he is an atheist prior to the West Virginia primary.[5][25]

On May 21, 2016, DNC National Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach sent an email to DNC Spokesman Luis Miranda mentioning a controversy that ensued in December 2015, when the National Data Director of the Sanders campaign and three subordinate staffers accessed the Clinton campaign's voter information on the NGP VAN database.[26] (The party accused Sanders' campaign of impropriety and briefly limited their access to the database. The Sanders campaign filed suit for breach of contract against the DNC; they dropped the suit on April 29, 2016.)[25][27][28] Paustenbach suggested that the incident could be used to promote a "narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never had his act together, that his campaign was a mess." (The suggestion was rejected by the DNC.) [5][25] The Washington Post wrote: "Paustenbach's suggestion, in that way, could be read as a defense of the committee rather than pushing negative information about Sanders. But this is still the committee pushing negative information about one of its candidates."[5]

Debbie Wasserman Schultz's emails

In the aftermath of the Nevada Democratic convention, Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote about Jeff Weaver, manager of Bernie Sanders' campaign: "Damn liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred".[29][30][31] In another email, Wasserman Schultz said of Bernie Sanders, "He isn't going to be president."[24] Other email had her stating that Sanders doesn't understand the Democratic Party.[32]

In May 2016, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski accused the DNC of bias against the Sanders campaign and called on Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down.[33][34] Schultz was upset at the negative coverage of her actions in the media, and she emailed the political director of NBC News, Chuck Todd, that such coverage of her "must stop".[35][36] Describing the coverage as the "LAST straw", she ordered the DNC's communications director to call MSNBC president Phil Griffin to demand an apology from Brzezinski.[37][38]

Financial and donor information

According to The New York Times, the cache included "thousands of emails exchanged by Democratic officials and party fund-raisers, revealing in rarely seen detail the elaborate, ingratiating and often bluntly transactional exchanges necessary to harvest hundreds of millions of dollars from the party's wealthy donor class. The emails capture a world where seating charts are arranged with dollar totals in mind, where a White House celebration of gay pride is a thinly disguised occasion for rewarding wealthy donors and where physical proximity to the president is the most precious of currencies."[39] As is common in national politics, large party donors "were the subject of entire dossiers, as fund-raisers tried to gauge their interests, annoyances and passions."[39]

In a series of email exchanges in April and May 2016, DNC fundraising staff discussed and compiled a list of people (mainly donors) who might be appointed to federal boards and commissions.[40] Center for Responsive Politics senior fellow Bob Biersack noted that this is a longstanding practice in the United States: "Big donors have always risen to the top of lists for appointment to plum ambassadorships and other boards and commissions around the federal landscape."[40] The White House denied that financial support for the party was connected to board appointments, saying: "Being a donor does not get you a role in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one. We've said this for many years now and there's nothing in the emails that have been released that contradicts that."[40]

France

In 2011 France, under Sarkozy, led calls for international intervention in the Libyan Civil War, voted in favor of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and, subsequently, dispatched the French Air Force into direct military action in Libya in support of the National Transitional Council.[41] At the time, France explained the move was to protect Libyan civilians, however, in a private email from Sidney Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton - revealed as part of the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak - Blumenthal claimed France was more concerned with Libya's large gold reserves which might pose a threat to the value of the Central African Franc, thereby displacing French influence in Africa, and that Sarkozy was interested in gaining more ready access to Libyan oil. Blumenthal's analysis of Sarkozy's motivations, though reflecting a popular theory on conspiracy websites, has been rejected as "not credible" by former French diplomat Patrick Haimzadeh, because "the timeline just doesn't add up," with Sarkozy's decision to intervene preceding knowledge of Gaddafi's plans.[42] French investigative journalist Fabrice Arfi dismissed Blumenthal's claim as "far-fetched," while also acknowledging that even U.S. intelligence did not find France's publicly stated motivations for the Libya intervention to be entirely credible either.[42]

Perpetrators

Cybersecurity analysis

A self-styled hacker going by the moniker "Guccifer 2.0" claimed to be the source of the leaks;[43][44] WikiLeaks did not reveal its source.[23] Cybersecurity experts and firms, including CrowdStrike, Fidelis Cybersecurity, Mandiant, SecureWorks, and ThreatConnect, and the editor for Ars Technica, stated the leak was part of a series of cyberattacks on the DNC committed by two Russian intelligence groups.[45][46][47][48][49][50] U.S. intelligence agencies also stated (with "high confidence"[51]) that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the DNC, according to reports in the New York Times and the Washington Post.[51][52][53][54][55]

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange initially stuck to WikiLeaks policy of neither confirming or denying sources but in January 2017 said that their "source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party",[56][57] and the Russian government said it had no involvement.[58]

The FBI requested, but did not receive, physical access to the DNC servers.[59][60] The FBI did obtain copies of the servers and all the information on them, as well as access to forensics from CrowdStrike, a third-party cybersecurity company that reviewed the DNC servers.[60] In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said that access through Crowdstrike was an "appropriate substitute" and termed the firm a "highly respected private company."[60][59]

United States intelligence conclusions

Intelligence Community Assessment - Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.pdf&page=7
ODNI declassified assessment of "Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections"

On October 7, 2016, the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that the US intelligence community was confident that the Russian government directed the breaches and the release of the obtained or allegedly obtained material in an attempt to "... interfere with the US election process."[61][62][63]

The U.S. Intelligence Community tasked resources debating why Putin chose summer 2016 to escalate active measures influencing U.S. politics.[64] Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said after the 2011–13 Russian protests, Putin's confidence in his viability as a politician was damaged, and Putin responded with the propaganda operation.[64] Former CIA officer Patrick Skinner explained the goal was to spread uncertainty.[65] U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, commented on Putin's aims, and said U.S. intelligence agencies were concerned with Russian propaganda.[64] Speaking about disinformation that appeared in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland, Schiff said there was an increase of the same behavior in the U.S.[64] Schiff concluded Russian propaganda operations would continue against the U.S. after the election.[64]

On December 9, 2016, the CIA told U.S. legislators the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded Russia conducted operations during the 2016 U.S. election to assist Donald Trump in winning the presidency.[13][66][67] Multiple U.S intelligence agencies concluded people with direct ties to the Kremlin gave WikiLeaks hacked emails from the DNC and additional sources such as John Podesta, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.[13] These intelligence organizations additionally concluded Russia attempted to hack the Republican National Committee (RNC) as well as the DNC but were prevented by security defenses on the RNC network.[68][69]

The CIA said the foreign intelligence agents were Russian operatives previously known to the U.S.[13] CIA officials told U.S. Senators it was "quite clear" Russia's intentions were to help Trump.[66] Trump released a statement December 9, and disregarded the CIA conclusions.[13]

Trump–Russia dossier allegations

The Trump–Russia dossier contains several allegations related to the hacking and leaking of the emails. The individuals named have denied the allegations.

The dossier alleges:

  • That Russia was responsible for the DNC email hacks[70][71][72] and the recent appearance of the stolen DNC e-mails on WikiLeaks,[70][73] and that the reason for using WikiLeaks was "plausible deniability".[74] (Dossier, pp. 7–8)
  • That "the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team."[75][74] (Dossier, p. 8)
  • That after the emails were leaked to WikiLeaks, it was decided to not leak more, but to engage in misinformation: "Rather the tactics would be to spread rumours and misinformation about the content of what already had been leaked and make up new content."[76] (Dossier, p. 15)
  • That Trump's foreign policy adviser Carter Page had "conceived and promoted" the idea of "leaking the DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks during the Democratic Convention" "to swing supporters of Bernie SANDERS away from Hillary CLINTON and across to TRUMP."[77][78][79] (Dossier, p. 17)
  • That the hacking of the DNC servers was performed by Romanian hackers ultimately controlled by Putin and paid by both Trump and Putin.[80][81] (Dossier, pp. 34–35)
  • That Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had a secret meeting with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016,[70][82][83] where he arranged "deniable cash payments" to the hackers and sought "to cover up all traces of the hacking operation",[80][81] as well as "cover up ties between Trump and Russia, including Manafort's involvement in Ukraine".[75] (Dossier, pp. 18, 34-35)

Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations, labeling the dossier as "discredited", "debunked", "fictitious", and "fake news".[84] Paul Manafort has "denied taking part in any collusion with the Russian state, but registered himself as a foreign agent retroactively after it was revealed his firm received more than $17m working as a lobbyist for a pro-Russian Ukrainian party."[76] Cohen has also denied the allegations against him.[80][81][82][83] Page originally denied meeting any Russian officials, but his later testimony, acknowledging that he had met with senior Russian officials at Rosneft, has been interpreted as appearing to corroborate portions of the dossier.[85][86][87]

In February 2019, Cohen implicated Trump before the US Congress, writing that Trump had knowledge that Roger Stone was communicating with Wikileaks about releasing emails stolen from the DNC in 2016.[88][89]

Reactions

On July 18, 2016, Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for Russian president Vladimir Putin, stated that the Russian government had no involvement in the DNC hacking incident.[90] Peskov called it "paranoid" and "absurd",[91] saying: "We are again seeing these maniacal attempts to exploit the Russian theme in the US election campaign."[92] That position was later reiterated by the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, which called the allegation "entirely unrealistic".[93]

Then Republican nominee Donald Trump said on Twitter: "Leaked e-mails of DNC show plans to destroy Bernie Sanders. Mock his heritage and much more. On-line from Wikileakes [sic], really vicious. RIGGED."[94]

The leak fueled tensions going into the 2016 Democratic National Convention: although DNC operatives initially denied accusations of bias, Sanders operatives and multiple media commentators cited the leaks as clear evidence that the DNC had been favoring Clinton and undermining Sanders.[94][95][96][97] Several media commentators have disputed the significance of the emails, arguing that the DNC's internal preference for Clinton was not historically unusual and was unlikely to have swayed the final outcome of the primary;[98][99][100] whereas many of Sanders' supporters viewed the revelations as symptomatic of an entrenched, unethical political establishment.[101][102]

On July 24, 2016, Sanders urged Wasserman Schultz to resign following the leak and stated that he was "disappointed" by the leak, but that he was "not shocked."[49][103] Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, called for greater accountability in the DNC, calling Wasserman Schultz "a figure of disunity" within the Democratic Party.[104][105] Later the same day, Wasserman Schultz resigned from her position as DNC Chairman, effective as of the end of the nominating convention.[106] After Wasserman Schultz resigned, Sanders said that she had "made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party."[107] On the following day, the DNC apologized to Bernie Sanders and his supporters, stating, "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," and that the emails did not reflect the DNC's "steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process."[7] On July 24, 2016, in an interview with NPR, former DNC Chair and current Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe said "... that the chair's job should be "to remain neutral." "I sat in that chair in 2004 trying to navigate all the different candidates we had. But if you had people in there who were trashing one of the candidates, I can tell you this, if I were still chairman they wouldn't be working there. I mean, that is just totally unacceptable behavior."[108]

On July 25, 2016, Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter for the BBC, commented that "the revelation that those in the heart of the Democratic establishment sought to undermine the anti-establishment Sanders is roughly on a par with [Casablanca character] police Capt Renault's professed shock that gambling was taking place in the Casablanca club he was raiding, as a waiter hands him his winnings."[109]

On July 25, 2016, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said that "Today's events show really what an uphill climb the Democrats are facing this week in unifying their party. Starting out the week by losing your party chairman over longstanding bitterness between factions is no way to keep something together." [110]

After the emails were released, the Australian diplomat Alexander Downer informed the U.S. government that, in May 2016 at a London wine bar, Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos had told him that the Russian government had a large trove of Hillary Clinton emails that could potentially damage her presidential campaign. The FBI started a counterintelligence investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[111][112]

On October 14, 2016, NBC News reported that multiple sources were telling them that Barack Obama had ordered the CIA to present him with options for a retaliatory cyber attack against the Russian Federation for allegedly interfering in the US presidential election. Sources said that this is not the first time the CIA has presented such options to a president, but that on all previous occasions the decision was made not to carry out the proposed attacks.[113]

In an op-ed for The Intercept, James Risen chided the media for its lopsided reporting on emails:[114]

To their disgrace, editors and reporters at American news organizations greatly enhanced the Russian echo chamber, eagerly writing stories about Clinton and the Democratic Party based on the emails, while showing almost no interest during the presidential campaign in exactly how those emails came to be disclosed and distributed ... The hack was a much more important story than the content of the emails themselves, but that story was largely ignored because it was so easy for journalists to write about Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

Media coverage and public perception

On July 27 2016, the New York Times reported that Julian Assange, in an interview on British ITV on June 12, 2016, had "made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency", and that in a later interview[115] on the program Democracy Now! on July 25 2016, the first day of the Democratic National Convention, he acknowledged that "he had timed their release to coincide with the Democratic convention."[51][116] In an interview with CNN, Assange would neither confirm nor deny who WikiLeaks' sources were; he claimed that his website "...  might release "a lot more material" relevant to the US electoral campaign ..." [117]

Following the publication of the stolen emails, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden criticized WikiLeaks for its wholesale leakage of data, writing that "their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake."[18] The Washington Post contrasted the difference between WikiLeaks' practices and Snowden's disclosure of information about NSA: while Snowden worked with journalists to vet documents (withholding some where it would endanger national security), WikiLeaks' "more radical" approach involves the dumping of "massive, searchable caches online with few—if any—apparent efforts to remove sensitive personal information."[18]

On July 25, 2016, Anne Applebaum, columnist for the Washington Post, writes that

... with the exception of a few people on Twitter and a handful of print journalists, most of those covering this story, especially on television, are not interested in the nature of the hackers, and they are not asking why the Russians apparently chose to pass the emails on to WikiLeaks at this particular moment, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. They are focusing instead on the content of what were meant to be private emails ...

She goes on to describe in detail other Russian destabilization campaigns in Eastern European countries.[118]

On July 25, 2016, Thomas Rid, Professor in Security Studies at King's College, London, and non-resident fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, in Washington, DC, summed up the evidence pointing to Russia being behind the hacking of the DNC files and the "Guccifer-branded leaking operation". He concludes that these actions successfully blunted the "DNC's ability to use its opposition research in surprise against Trump ..." [47] He further writes that data exfiltration from political organizations is done by many countries and is considered to be a legitimate form of intelligence work. "But digitally exfiltrating and then publishing possibly manipulated documents disguised as freewheeling hacktivism is crossing a big red line and setting a dangerous precedent: an authoritarian country directly yet covertly trying to sabotage an American election."[47]

Russian security expert and investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov said "It is almost impossible to know for sure whether or not Russia is behind a hack of the DNC's servers". According to him, one of the reasons Russia would try to sway the US presidential election is that the Russian government considers Clinton "a hater of Russia": "There is this mentality in Russia of being besieged; that it is always under attack from the United States ... They are trying to interfere in our internal affairs so why not try to do the same thing to them?"[119]

Civil DNC lawsuit

On April 20, 2018, the Democratic National Committee filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in New York, accusing the Russian government, the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and others of conspiracy to alter the course of the 2016 presidential election and asking for monetary damages and a declaration admitting guilt. A hearing on the defendants' motions to dismiss was scheduled for May 17, 2018.[120][121]

See also

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Alleged Libyan financing in the 2007 French presidential election

Alleged Libyan financing in the 2007 French presidential election purportedly took the form of Libya's covert and illicit bankrolling of the presidential campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy with up to €50 million in pay-outs. Sarkozy has denied wrongdoing and rejected suggestions he was a Libyan agent of influence during his tenure as president of France.

Amy Dacey

Amy Dacey is an American Democratic politician. She was the CEO of the Democratic National Committee from January 2014 until her resignation in August 2016.

Bernie Bro

"Bernie Bro" (sometimes spelled "Berniebro"; collective Bernie Bros) is a pejorative label applied to some supporters of American politician Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont and two-time Democratic presidential primary candidate.

CrowdStrike

CrowdStrike, Inc. is an American cybersecurity technology company based in Sunnyvale, California, and a wholly owned subsidiary of CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. The company provides endpoint security, threat intelligence, and incident response services to customers in more than 170 countries. The company has been involved in countermeasure efforts to several high-profile cyber-attacks, including the Sony Pictures hack, the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak, and the Democratic National Committee cyber attacks.

DCLeaks

DCLeaks (also known as DC Leaks) is a website that was established in June 2016. Since its creation, it has been responsible for publishing leaks of emails belonging to multiple prominent figures in the United States government and military. Cybersecurity research firms say the site is a front for the Russian cyber-espionage group Fancy Bear. On July 13, 2018, an indictment was made against 12 Russian GRU military officers; it alleges that DC Leaks is part of a Russian military operation.

Democratic National Committee cyber attacks

The Democratic National Committee cyber attacks took place in 2015 and 2016, in which computer hackers infiltrated the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network, leading to a data breach. Some cybersecurity experts, as well as the U.S. government, stated that the cyberespionage was the work of Russian intelligence agencies.

Forensic evidence analyzed by several cybersecurity firms, CrowdStrike, Fidelis, and Mandiant (or FireEye), strongly indicates that two Russian intelligence agencies infiltrated the DNC computer systems. The American cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which removed the hacking programs, revealed a history of encounters with both groups and had already named them, calling one of them Cozy Bear and the other Fancy Bear, names which are used in the media.On December 9, 2016, the CIA told U.S. legislators the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded Russia conducted the cyberattacks and other operations during the 2016 U.S. election to assist Donald Trump in winning the presidency. Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that specific individuals tied to the Russian government provided WikiLeaks with the stolen emails from the DNC, as well as stolen emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, who was also the target of a cyberattack. These intelligence organizations additionally concluded Russia hacked the Republican National Committee (R.N.C.) as well as the D.N.C., but chose not to leak information obtained from the R.N.C.

Fusion GPS

Fusion GPS is a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington, D.C. The company conducts open-source investigations and provides research and strategic advice for businesses, law firms and investors, as well as for political inquiries, such as opposition research. The "GPS" initialism is derived from "Global research, Political analysis, Strategic insight".

George Papadopoulos

George Demetrios Papadopoulos (; born August 19, 1987) is a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about the timing and the possible significance of his contacts in 2016 relating to U.S.-Russia relations and the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He has served time in federal prison and is currently on a 12-month supervised release. During his supervised release from prison he is participating in a docuseries.

Guccifer

Marcel Lazăr Lehel (born in 1971/1972), known as Guccifer, is a Romanian hacker responsible for high-level computer security breaches in the U.S. and Romania. Lehel targeted celebrities, Romanian and U.S. government officials, and other prominent persons.

Lehel first appeared in news media in February 2013 after the website The Smoking Gun reported he was responsible for hacking the AOL account of Dorothy Bush Koch, sister of former president George W. Bush. Family photos of former president George H. W. Bush, who was in the hospital at the time, were circulated to the internet. He also circulated a self-portrait painted by George W. Bush. Lehel went on to hack a number of AOL, Yahoo!, Flickr, and Facebook accounts, giving him access to information about current and former high-level government officials.

In January 2014, Lehel was jailed in his native Romania for seven years after being convicted of hacking emails of Romanian officials. Lehel was subsequently extradited by Romania to the United States, where he was indicted on federal charges. In May 2016, Lehel pleaded guilty in federal court to two charges. In September 2016, he was sentenced to 52 months in prison in the United States. Romanian authorities asked for Lazar to be released to his home nation to complete his seven-year prison sentence there before being returned to the U.S. to serve his federal prison sentence.

In August 2017 Lazar, from Romanian prison, gave a statement to US reporters regarding his wish to stay in Romanian prison and his assertion that Guccifer 2.0 is an invention of the U.S. Government.

Guccifer 2.0

"Guccifer 2.0" is a persona which claimed to be the hacker(s) that hacked into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network and then leaked its documents to the media, the website WikiLeaks, and a conference event. According to indictments in February 2018, the persona is operated by Russian military intelligence (GRU). Some of the documents Guccifer 2.0 released to the media appear to be forgeries cobbled together from public information and previous hacks, which had been salted with disinformation. On July 13, 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 GRU agents for allegedly perpetrating the cyberattacks.The U.S. Intelligence Community concluded that some of the genuine leaks that Guccifer 2.0 has said were part of a series of cyberattacks on the DNC were committed by two Russian intelligence groups. This conclusion is based on analyses conducted by various private sector cybersecurity individuals and firms, including CrowdStrike, Fidelis Cybersecurity, Fireeye's Mandiant, SecureWorks, ThreatConnect, Trend Micro, and the security editor for Ars Technica. The Russian government denies involvement in the theft, and "Guccifer 2.0" denied links to Russia. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that multiple parties had access to DNC emails and that there was "no proof" that Russia was behind the attack. According to various cybersecurity firms and U.S. government officials, Guccifer 2.0 is a persona that was created by Russian intelligence services to cover for their interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In March 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over investigation of Guccifer 2.0 from the FBI while it was reported that forensic determination had found the Guccifer 2.0 persona to be a "particular military intelligence directorate (GRU) officer working out of the agency’s headquarters on Grizodubovoy Street in Moscow".

JournoList

JournoList (sometimes referred to as the J-List) was a private Google Groups forum for discussing politics and the news media with 400 "left-leaning" journalists, academics and others. Ezra Klein created the online forum in February 2007 while blogging at The American Prospect and shut it down on June 25, 2010 amid wider public exposure. Journalists later pointed out various off-color statements made by members of the list denigrating conservatives, as well as a seeming conspiracy to prop up then Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Others defended such statements as being taken out of context or simply a matter of private candor.

Juan Branco

Juan Branco (born 26 August 1989) is a Franco-Spanish lawyer, academic and investigative journalist, currently working for Le Monde Diplomatique. Close adviser to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he has worked for the Criminal Special Court of Central Africa and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Mika Brzezinski

Mika Emilie Leonia Brzezinski Scarborough (; born May 2, 1967) is an American journalist, talk show host, liberal political commentator, and author who currently co-hosts MSNBC's weekday morning broadcast show Morning Joe. She was formerly a CBS News correspondent, and was their principal "Ground Zero" reporter during the morning of the September 11 attacks. In 2007 she joined MSNBC as an occasional anchor, and was subsequently chosen as co-host of Morning Joe, alongside Joe Scarborough. She and Scarborough were married on November 24, 2018, with Rep. Elijah Cummings serving as the officiant.Mika Brzezinski is a visiting fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics. Her main political interest is in wage equality for women. She is also the author of three books; two on her career as a journalist and one on food addiction.

Brzezinski is the daughter of the late diplomat and political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as adviser to both Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

Peter Strzok

Peter Paul Strzok II (, like struck; born March 7, 1970) is a former United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent. Strzok was the Chief of the Counterespionage Section and led the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server.Strzok rose to become the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, the second-highest position in that division. He also led the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.In June and July 2017, Strzok worked on Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation into any links or coordination between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government. Mueller removed Strzok from the Russia investigation when Mueller became aware of criticisms of Trump contained in personal text messages exchanged between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who were having an extramarital affair. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended Mueller's response to the text messages.

The revelation of the text messages led Republican congressmen and right wing media to start pushing conspiracy theories to the effect that Strzok was involved in a secret plot to undermine the Trump presidency.A comprehensive review in February 2018 of Strzok's messages by The Wall Street Journal concluded that "texts critical of Mr. Trump represent a fraction of the roughly 7,000 messages, which stretch across 384 pages and show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump".On August 10, 2018, David Bowdich, the FBI deputy director, fired Strzok.

Podesta emails

In March 2016, the personal Gmail account of John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff and chair of Hillary Clinton's 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, was compromised in a data breach, and some of his emails, many of which were work-related, were stolen. Cybersecurity researchers as well as the United States government attributed responsibility for the breach, which was accomplished via a spear-phishing attack, to the hacking group Fancy Bear, allegedly affiliated with Russian intelligence services.Some or all of the Podesta emails were subsequently obtained by WikiLeaks, which published over 20,000 pages of emails, allegedly from Podesta, in October and November 2016. Podesta and the Clinton campaign have declined to authenticate the emails. Cybersecurity experts interviewed by PolitiFact believe the majority of emails are probably unaltered, while stating it is possible that the hackers inserted at least some doctored or fabricated emails. The article then attests that the Clinton campaign, however, has yet to produce any evidence that any specific emails in the latest leak were fraudulent. A subsequent investigation by U.S. intelligence agencies also reported that the files obtained by WikiLeaks during the U.S. election contained no "evident forgeries".Podesta's e-mails, once released by Wikileaks, formed the basis for Pizzagate, a debunked conspiracy theory that falsely posited that Podesta and other Democratic Party officials were involved in a child trafficking ring based out of pizzerias in Washington, D.C.

ThreatConnect

ThreatConnect is a cyber-security firm based in Arlington, Virginia. They provide a Threat Intelligence Platform for companies to aggregate and act upon threat intelligence.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is a group of former officers of the United States Intelligence Community. It was formed in January 2003 when the group issued a statement accusing the Bush Administration of misrepresenting U.S. national intelligence information in order to push the US and its allies toward that year's US-led invasion of Iraq. The group issued a letter stating that intelligence analysts were not being heeded by policy makers. The group initially numbered 25, mostly retired analysts.

Web shell

A web shell (classified as a remote access trojan) is a web security exploit that is a web-based implementation of the shell concept. A web shell is able to be uploaded to a web server to allow remote access to the web server, such as the web server's file system. A web shell is unique in that it enables users to access a web server by way of a web browser that acts like a command-line interface. A user can access a remote computer via the World Wide Web using a web browser on any type of system, whether it's a desktop computer or a mobile phone with a web browser, and perform tasks on the remote system. No command-line environment is required on either the host or the client.A web shell could be programmed in any language that the target server supports. Web shells are most commonly written in PHP, Active Server Pages, or ASP.NET, but Python, Perl, Ruby and Unix shell scripts are also used, although not as common because it is not very common for web servers to support these languages.Using network monitoring tools such as Wireshark, an attacker can find vulnerabilities which are exploited resulting in a web shell installation. These vulnerabilities may be present in content management system applications (abbreviated CMS) or the web server's software.An attacker can use a web shell to issue commands, perform privilege escalation on the web server, and the ability to upload, delete, download and run scripts and files on the web server.

XHamster

xHamster is a pornographic media and social networking site headquartered in the Cypriot city of Limassol, with offices in Houston, Kyoto, and London. xHamster serves user-submitted pornographic videos, webcam models, pornographic photographs, and erotic literature, and incorporates social networking features. xHamster was founded in 2007. With more than 10 million members, it is the third most popular pornography website on the Internet after XVideos and Pornhub.

The site produces The Sex Factor, a reality TV series in which men and women compete to become porn stars. The site has been targeted as part of malvertising campaigns, and some governments have blocked xHamster as part of larger initiatives against Internet pornography.

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