Posted: 3:05 pm Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
Several days after the release of a report on election meddling by Russian intelligence, U.S. Intelligence officials told Senators that Russia also targeted Republican groups and the Republican National Committee, but unlike the materials taken from Democratic officials, Moscow did not publicly release any of that material.
“There were successful penetrations of some groups and campaigns – particularly on the state level on the Republican side of the aisle,” said FBI Director James Comey, who said Russia also got in to old email domains of the Republican National Committee which he said were “no longer in use.”
"There's no doubt that they were more successful at the DNC than the RNC," Comey says; "They didn't get in" to current RNC systems. #Russia
— Michael Wilner (@mawilner) January 10, 2017
But, U.S. officials did not detect any successful moves by the Russians against Donald Trump or national Republicans in 2016.
“We did not develop any evidence that the Trump campaign, or the current RNC, was successfully hacked,” Comey added.
At a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the FBI Director said there were Russian “intrusions” in state voter registration databases – but that officials still weren’t sure what the goal was.
“There was no doubt that the Russians attacked, intruded and took data from some of those systems,” the FBI chief said.
Overall, U.S. officials once more said that the plan to undermine the elections went right to the top, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“The goals of this campaign were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and to harm her electability and potential presidency,” said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Clapper: "We have high confidence that Putin ordered a campaign…Russia aspired to help President-elect Trump's chances whenever possible."
— Dianna E Anderson (@diannaeanderson) January 10, 2017
“That was their goal – to sow doubt about the efficacy of our system and to cast aspersions on our political system,” said Clapper.
“In the end, what they really wanted to see was Americans fighting against each other, bickering over these things,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who said it seemed to him that Russia achieved its goal.
“Neither political party should take this lightly,” Rubio said. “This involves whether we or not we are going to allow someone to actively interfere in our political discourse and divide as a nation against each other.”
Clapper: "After summer 2016 Russia wanted to use info to damage a future Clinton presidency. Initially saw Trump as a “fringe” candidate."
— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) January 10, 2017
Originally, the effort was anti-Hillary Clinton, but then morphed more into supporting Donald Trump as the campaign wore on.
“They thought he was a fringe candidate,” Clapper said of the initial Russian view of Trump.
There was one other item of note from the hearing, as the FBI Director was asked about the email servers that had been compromised at the Democratic National Committee.
“Were you given access to do the forensics on those servers?” asked Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC).
“We were not,” Comey said, relating that a “highly respected private company eventually got access, and shared with us what they saw there.”
Comey acknowledged that was not the ideal situation for investigation, adding fuel to the fire of critics who say this investigation is lacking in detail.
The FBI Director was also pressed on whether there is any investigation going on to explore links between Russian Intelligence and the Trump campaign.
Comey refused to offer up anything of note.
“I would never comment on investigations, whether we have one or not, in an open forum like this,” Comey said, as he was swiftly pressed for more by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Director Comey refused to answer my question about whether the FBI has investigated Trump campaign contacts with Russia
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 10, 2017
“The American people have a right to know the answer to this question before January 20,” Wyden said.
“I hope that you will make a declassified statement,” Wyden added.
But Comey wasn’t budging.
“Sir, I will ask any question you ask, but the answer will likely be the same as I just gave you; I can’t talk about,” as Comey did not rule out the possibility of that the FBI has been looking at any Trump ties to Russian interests.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.