WASHINGTON — House Democratic Intelligence Committee member Eric Swallwell said Monday that questioning the Democratic National Committee’s lack of response to the FBI’s warning that their servers were unsecure is just “blaming the victim.”
“Well when I was a prosecutor…during a criminal trial I would get pretty outraged when somebody would try and blame the victim and I think you know to put this on the Democratic Party, I think, is blaming the victim,” the California Democrat told reporters after the Intelligence Committee Hearing Monday attended by FBI director James Comey.
When asked by TheDC if the DNC should have secured their servers immediately after the FBI warned the organization that their server security was at risk of being breached instead of waiting 10 months until the first breach happened, Swallwell replied, “I mean that’s looking at the past. Our country was attacked.”
He added, “The I.T. responsibility — again you’re blaming the victim, if you’re following that line. Our country was attacked and next time it might not be the Republicans who benefit.”
Republican Intelligence Committee members questioned FBI Director Comey about the DNC’s response to the FBI’s warnings about Democrats’ servers being breached. According to Comey, the agency cautioned the DNC about the issue in August of 2015. Only ten months later did the FBI get forensics on the organization’s machines from that firm.
Comey confirmed that the DNC would not give the agency access to their servers at the time, something DNC deputy communications director Eric Walker had denied to Buzzfeed in early January. Instead, Comey said the DNC hired a private firm to review their system and send the report to the FBI.
“So the FBI notified the DNC of the hack and it was not until 10 months later that you had any details about what was actually going on forensically on their network?” asked Hurd.
Comey answered affirmatively, later noting, “We made extensive efforts to notify. I might have walked over there myself knowing what I know now. But I think the efforts we made that our agents made were reasonable at the time.”
“The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers,” Walker told BuzzFeed News in an email.
Swallwell later stated, “I don’t think the Democratic Party invited an attack. The Russians are very sophisticated. They have very good capabilities and it wasn’t just the hacking that occurred. They had paid social media trolls. They had Russia today. They are paid propaganda service which is affiliated with the FSB the intelligence service. They were disseminating fake news so this was a multifaceted campaign.”
Comey later told the committee that not only were Democrats targets of Russian hacking, but so were Republicans.
“I think what we can say in an unclassified setting is what we have in the report that there were efforts to penetrate organizations associated with the Republican Party and that is what we said in the report and that there were not releases of material–taken hacked from any Republican associated organizations,” Comey said.
Republican National Committee officials told the Wall Street Journal last December intruders attempted to get past their security protocols but failed.