In response to accusations by Hillary Clinton, the FBI, and others, Vladimir Putin insists that Russia had nothing to do with the massive email hack that forced Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other top DNC officials to resign.
“Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?” asks Putin. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public.” The July attack led to the release of more than 19,000 private emails, exposing a serious political bias in favor of Hillary Clinton among top DNC employees.
“There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it,” says Putin. “But I want to tell you again, I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this.”
The Russian President scoffs at the notion that America is concerned with the email hack. He says he “couldn’t imagine” why the leaked information would be important to “American society – specifically that the campaign headquarters worked in the interest of one of the candidates, in this case Mrs. Clinton, rather than equally for all of the Democratic party candidates.”
Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin have never been friends. The former secretary of state has compared the Russian President to Hitler, and Putin has accused Hillary of inciting some of the biggest protests of his presidency. Donald Trump, on the other hand, views Putin as a skillful leader and key ally.
Despite Putin’s denials, the FBI remains convinced that the Russian government was behind the cyberattack. An internal DNC probe utilized during the investigation has traced the hack to two groups allegedly linked to Russian intelligence agencies.
One of these groups – Fancy Bear – has a history of hacking foreign governments. The Ukrainian government detected malware linked to Fancy Bear during the elections held after Viktor Yanukovych, the nation’s Kremlin-backed leader, was deposed.
Cybersecurity expert James Lewis says Russia’s “track record” of state hacking goes back at least 10 years, and that Putin’s statements simply aren’t credible. “Nice try, but no goal,” says Lewis.
The cyberattack was not limited to the DNC, and has affected numerous Democratic organizations. Since July, the hackers’ “digital net” has expanded to include NATO generals, congressional staffers, and Washington think tanks. The subsequent data leaks even included Nancy Pelosi’s private cell phone number.
“You know how many hackers there are today?” asks Putin. “They act so delicately and precisely that they can leave their mark – or even the mark of others – at the necessary time and place, camouflaging their activities as that of other hackers from other territories or countries. It’s an extremely difficult thing to check, if it’s even possible to check.”
Putin added that even if the Russians wanted to influence the upcoming US election, they simply wouldn’t know how: “To do that you need to have a finger on the pulse and get the specifics of the domestic political life of the US. I’m not sure that even our Foreign Ministry experts are sensitive enough.”
Editor’s note: We told you a month ago, Russian intelligence is a professional organization. Professional intelligence organizations don’t make a spectacle, and do not leave tracks. As a former intelligence officer I can tell you the Russians almost certainly have the information as do many other services, but leaking the information to Wikileaks would not be a professional move.