The chair of the Democratic National Committee said Sunday that the DNC was under constant cyber attack by Russian hackers right through the election in November. Her claim contradicts President Barack Obama’s statement Friday that the attacks ended in September after he issued a personal warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“No, they did not stop,” Donna Brazile told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “They came after us absolutely every day until the end of the election. They tried to hack into our system repeatedly. We put up the very best cyber security … but they constantly [attacked].”
Brazile said the DNC was outgunned in its efforts to fend off the hacks, and suggested the committee received insufficient protection from U.S. intelligence agencies. The CIA and FBI have reportedly concluded that Russians carried out the attacks in an effort to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
“I think the Obama administration ― the FBI, the various other federal agencies ― they informed us, they told us what was happening. We knew as of May,” Brazile said. “But in terms of helping us to fight, we were fighting a foreign adversary in the cyberspace. The Democratic National Committee, we were not a match. And yet we fought constantly.”
On Sunday, Brazile sent a letter to Congress calling for a bipartisan investigation into the hacks, saying “there is still much that we do not know about the motives, methods and specific objectives of the Russian government, and the reaction of our own government.” On the same day, Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), a Democrat, and John McCain (Ariz.), a Republican, called for a select committee to investigate any Russian meddling in the election process.
Brazile made a surprising analogy in her “This Week” appearance, comparing the FBI’s help to the DNC to that of the Geek Squad, the tech service provided at retailer Best Buy ― which is to say well-meaning, but limited.
“They reached out ― it’s like going to Best Buy,” Brazile said. “You get the Geek Squad, and they’re great people, by the way. They reached out to our IT vendors. But they reached us, meaning senior Democratic officials, by then it was, you know, the Russians had been involved for a long time.”
At a press conference on Friday, Obama defended the White House’s response to the cyberattacks. He said the administration wanted to send a message to the Russians that interfering wouldn’t be tolerated, but he wanted to be careful not to incite more hacking that could affect vote counts. Obama also said the attacks on the DNC ended after he spoke to Putin in China in September.
“I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn’t happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out, and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn’t,” Obama said. “In fact we did not see further tampering of the election process. But the leaks through WikiLeaks had already occurred.”
While saying she was “outraged” by the apparent influence of a foreign adversary, Brazile said Democrats ultimately carry the blame for their loss. “Donald Trump cracked the blue wall, OK?” Brazile said. “He cracked the blue wall. We had a blue wall; we should’ve maintained it. We should’ve kept it.”