WASHINGTON – Former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile has claimed at least twice that the DNC destroyed its server after Russians “hacked” it during the 2016 election, and now her startling admission is baffling several members of Congress who discussed the issue with WND.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told WND that the committee will ultimately reveal why DNC officials refused to comply with the FBI’s requests to examine the server during the 2016 presidential election.
“I promise you, we’re asking about the server,” he said. “Trust me when I tell you, we are going to ask them about all of that. We’ve been talking about the server for about six months now.”
WND asked why Congress hasn’t demanded that the DNC turn over the server, if it still exists.
“I can’t recreate something that doesn’t exist, but trust me we’re on it,” he told WND. “Trust me.”
As WND recently reported, the allegedly hacked DNC email server is the key piece of forensic evidence in Russia’s suspected interference in the 2016 presidential election. The intelligence-community assessment released in January 2017 on purported Russian meddling in the race, conducted by the CIA, the FBI and the NSA, concludes Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the hacking of the DNC and the dissemination of emails from key staffers via WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
But the intelligence agencies attributing the sweeping cyber-intrusion to Russia-backed hackers have yet to provide any evidence. In fact, not a single government agency has even viewed the hacked computer servers to conduct a forensic data-breach investigation. The DNC destroyed the server, Brazile revealed.
‘Everything was wiped clean’
The FBI repeatedly asked the DNC to surrender its allegedly breached servers to the bureau. But the DNC didn’t comply and, instead, hired the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to make a “replica” of all the information on its server and computers, turning over a major law-enforcement investigation to the private sector.
“The person we hired was the former No. 3 at the FBI, and they worked it out. [CrowdStrike] got a list from the FBI – the thing that the FBI wanted. In that list of items that the FBI requested, they asked for a replica or an exact copy of everything that we have from our server – knowing that if we got rid of our server, we actually would get rid of our entire database,” Brazile explained during a discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., about her new book, “Hacks.”
“Our brain would be gone. And then essentially we would have nothing.”
Brazile insisted “killing” the server was critical after the data was breached, because the server would continue to be affected by spyware had it not been destroyed.
“In the last two weeks of the election, we had to make another decision as to whether or not to shut down that server – to actually kill it – because we kept getting, you know, we kept getting more spyware,” she said. “They were so stealth; the operation was so stealth.”
The replica and remediation process after the hacking cost the DNC “millions” of dollars, Brazile said.
“We made a replica of everything and turned it all over to [the FBI]. We also let them see all of the evidence from all of the individual computers, from everything else. So, we – trust me, it cost us quite a penny to make replicas, and then we destroyed the machines and then bought the staff people new laptops,” she said. “If you can imagine this, right before the convention, these staffers had lost all of their data, all of their materials – everything was gone. Everything was wiped clean, but we made a replica.”
During a separate interview with talk-show host Tim Black of “The Tim Black Show” Monday, Brazile explained – for a second time – that the DNC destroyed its server.
“We spent a hell of a lot of money to give them everything, every computer, every laptop, every iPad – every staff person every consultant had to turn it in,” Brazile said. “And we destroyed everything after finding out what we needed. And then we had to purchase new equipment and rebuild from scratch. It was tough, it was a hard time. I never want to repeat that again.”
But in exclusive comments to WND this week, Brazile walked back her repeated statements that the DNC destroyed its server.
“As chair, we made the decision to cooperate with federal officials and turn over a replica of our server through CrowdStrike. They were the vendors hired to remediate. The rest is in the book,” Brazile told WND. “We did not destroy our existing server, because it contained all of our data files and more. We had to prepare for Election Day.”
So which is it? Has the DNC server been destroyed? Brazile repeatedly declined to clear up the discrepancy when pressed by WND.
‘No government agency has looked into the server. It’s a gaping hole’
After the DNC denied law enforcement access to its server, the FBI – under former Director James Comey’s leadership – agreed to accept the findings of CrowdStrike rather than taking possession of the original server.
Cybersecurity experts told WND the only reason anyone would destroy a server is to “conceal data” and, if Brazile’s claims are true, the DNC is likely involved in a “cover-up.”
WND asked Democratic and Republican lawmakers if Congress is attempting to examine the server – if it still exists – to determine whether Russia had actually interfered in the presidential election by hacking the DNC.
Several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle indicated they hadn’t heard of claims that the DNC destroyed the server.
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, told WND that he has been relentlessly demanding answers about the DNC server for months from the Justice Department and the FBI.
“No government agency has looked into the server. It’s a gaping hole in the [Russia] investigation,” he said. “You’ve got the attorney general who is being very scrupulous about not confirming or denying what investigations are going on. Every time I’ve had an opportunity to speak with a Justice Department official or somebody with the FBI, I’ve taken a moment to make a statement about the people back in Texas that I represent who think we need to look at both sides of this.”
The Texas congressman said he was not aware of reports that the DNC destroyed the server. But he warned that the American people should not trust special counsel Robert Mueller, his team of investigators, the intelligence agencies or the mainstream media.
The FBI allowing the DNC to hand over only replicas instead of the original server would be “a real issue,” he said.
“You’ve actually got evidence of money coming from the Russians into the Clinton Foundation and into President Bill Clinton’s speaking funds. Nobody really wants to talk about that.”
Farenthold insisted that a special counsel must be appointed to investigate the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential campaign tactics.
“We ought to do a special counsel to look at what the other side was doing during the election,” he said. “I never cease to be amazed by how the spin doctors are able to focus the media attention – I am disappointed with a whole lot of the media because they are being led by the nose by Democrat operatives and surrendered their jobs as investigators.”
Republicans are calling for an investigation into the Democratic Party’s electoral fraud and corruption, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told WND.
The mystery surrounding the DNC server “is being looked at,” Issa said. “We’ve called for, among other things, a special prosecutor or an IG to investigate the FBI. We are not complacent on this.”
Issa said he is not aware of whether or not the server was destroyed. But he said the revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC funded the anti-Trump dossier, which also roiled the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, affirms suspicion that the Russia probe is a political coup.
“We now know that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton sponsored the fake news on aspects of Russia interference, and that in collusion with high-ranking people in the Justice Department, at least through marriage, represents a separate scandal,” he said. “We certainly would like to see the source of the dossier properly adjudicated, as it appears to have been nothing more than a dirty trick out of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
Thank President Trump for all his accomplishments during his first year in office. Send him a FREE card of your choice. Go to ThankTrump.us
Democrats: Server destruction ‘wasn’t to cover up any misdoing’
Democratic members of Congress told WND they have no idea whether the DNC destroyed the allegedly hacked server, but they insisted the server itself is irrelevant because there’s “irrefutable” evidence that Russian interfered in the election.
When told that Brazile claimed the DNC destroyed the server after the FBI requested it for forensic examination, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., argued that the server is “far from the most important aspect of the Russia probe.”
“The DNC server is but a minor, minor, little piece of the large picture,” Smith told WND. “The premise of the Russia probe is that Russia, in a very comprehensive way throughout the country, attempted to bear an influence over our election. And the further premise is whether ranking officials in the Trump campaign met with Russia officials and discussed all the things that they were doing in an effort to sway the election to Trump.”
Pressed on whether the server might reveal the source of the alleged DNC hack if it’s examined by intelligence agencies, Smith again insisted the server is irrelevant to the Russia probe.
“I’m not familiar with the details of the server,” he told WND. “I don’t know what the details are about what happened at the DNC. I will look into it. I do not know what went on with that investigation. But this idea that somehow – if you can prove one little piece of this – that the idea Russians didn’t interfere, isn’t true.
“The server is an entirely separate issue,” Smith continued. “I am very distressed at the efforts to undermine what the special prosecutor Robert Mueller is trying to do. What the Russians did to our election is enormously important. It’s not debatable. …
“There is evidence that the Russian attempted to hack into over 20 states’ electoral mechanisms, to probe them for vulnerability,” he said. “They planted stories throughout the United States. The meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and what they said. If you are one of those people who thinks there is no evidence, than I am sorry, we really don’t have a lot to talk about.”
Likewise, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., insisted it’s been proven that Russia did indeed hack the DNC server. However, he claimed inspection of the server won’t help investigators “prove collusion” between Trump and Russia.
“You can’t prove collusion by examining the DNC server,” Johnson told WND. “The investigation into collusion goes much further than that. It’s clearly established that the Russians did hack the DNC servers, and they did use that information to help Donald Trump win the presidential election. That is pretty well established in facts.”
Johnson argued that WikiLeaks’ release of DNC emails during the election is proof of Russian interference.
“I don’t know anything about servers being destroyed,” he said, “but I do know that without the server, you can still determine that the DNC email system was hacked because the information that was on it was distributed.”
But why would the DNC want to destroy the server, as Brazile indicated?
Johnson replied: “If they were destroyed, it wasn’t to cover up any misdoing, that’s for sure. Could have been just to replace the system to get something new that has not been corrupted by the Russians.”
Was it a ‘hack’ or really a leak at the DNC?
Meanwhile, some cybersecurity experts claim they have proof that someone leaked DNC data from inside the organization, and the information might not have been stolen by a hacker after all.
The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or VIPS, an organization of former CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, military intelligence officers, technical experts and analysts, released its initial investigative findings in the organization’s ongoing analysis of the alleged DNC hack in August.
VIPS has concluded that the DNC server was not hacked by the Russians or an outside entity accessing the server over the Internet. Rather, the organization believes the DNC data theft was an inside job by someone with physical access to the server.
The cyber experts maintain the data was downloaded on a thumb drive or similar portable storage device physically attached to the DNC server.
“The experts analyzed time stamps contained in the released computer files’ metadata and established that, at 6:45 p.m. July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server,” Philly.com reports. “This took 87 seconds, which means the transfer rate was 22.7 megabytes per second, a speed, according to VIPS, that ‘is much faster than what is physically possible with a hack.’ Such a speed could be accomplished only by direct connection of a portable storage device to the server.”
The NSA would have a record of the hack that could quickly be retrieved and produced, VIPS also concluded, yet no such evidence has been publicly disclosed.
Online hacker Kim Dotcom has claimed murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was behind the leak of the emails to WikiLeaks and was developing technologies to expose corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.
Rich, who was officially working on voter-registration systems for the DNC in the summer of 2016, was gunned down by unknown attackers in the early hours of July 10, 2016, just blocks from his home. The official police investigation into Rich’s murder has turned up no suspects or any motives for the crime.
WikiLeaks began publishing tens of thousands of Clinton campaign and DNC emails 12 days after Rich was killed. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is offering a $10,000 reward to find Rich’s murderer or murderers and has suggested that Rich may be the source of the leaked emails.
However, Rep. Johnson told WND that claims of the DNC data being leaked rather than hacked are baseless conspiracy theories.
Rather, he said, the allegation that Russia hacked the DNC is actually a “fact.”
“We have gone further than trying to figure out what happened to a server,” Johnson said. “We know for a fact our intelligence apparatus picked up the fact that Russia was involved in hacking into the DNC emails system, extracting the emails and then later releasing them.
“Now what the evidence also shows is that there was discussion between the Trump campaign and the Russians about the emails that Russia had. It’s clear that Russia had emails from the DNC server. How did they get them? They hacked into the server to get them. You don’t have to have the server in order to make that extrapolation.”
Democratic lawmaker: No reason to destroy DNC server
As for claims that the DNC server was destroyed, Rep. Jim Langivine, D-R.I., said there would be no justifiable reason to do so. He also blasted the DNC for not being more forthcoming with information that could help intelligence officials get to the bottom of electoral interference by a foreign power.
“This is the first I’ve heard of the fact that it was actually destroyed, so I’d have to get further information about that, but also as to why it would be destroyed in the first place – that’s certainly unfortunate if that’s the case,” Langivine told WND.
“I don’t understand why the server would be destroyed,” he continued. “The most effective thing would have been to have all relevant materials preserved so that we can look at all the chain of evidence or any indicators that would have substantiated the hacking.
“I want the FBI to do its work thoroughly and without the outside influence,” Langivine said. “I have high confidence in the House and Senate investigations happening right now. I hope they will be able to look at all relevant material. I hope the FBI has access to all the relevant information they need as well.”
While admitting it would be egregious if the DNC did, in fact, destroy the server, Langivine insisted Trump colluded with Russia during the election.
“There’s no doubt that this is not a witch hunt. There is a there there,” he told WND, citing reports that several intelligence agencies believe Russia interfered in the election.
“They did engage in a cover influence campaign to influence the outcome of our elections,” Langivine said. “We need to understand how they did it to make sure that they can’t do it again.”