Republican Congressman Michael McCaul (TX) revealed on CNN Wednesday that Russian hackers had breached both parties’ national committees, but have only leaked materials from Democrats and not Republicans. Minutes later, he retracted that statement.
McCaul, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told Wolf Blitzer that RNC emails had been breached just as DNC emails were, according to briefings he had received.
“They are not discriminating one party against the other,” McCaul said. “The Russians have basically hacked into both parties at the national level, and that gives us all concern.”
Wikileaks released hacked DNC emails in July, badly embarrassing party leadership and forcing then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down shortly before the Democratic convention.
However, any Republican emails and documents that might have been stolen have yet to be made public. Investigators said that the DNC hacks could be traced to Russian leadership, and the leaks were intended to benefit Donald Trump.
The revelation that Russian hackers breached both parties’ servers, but only leaked Democrats’ information, would corroborate the notion that the Kremlin is interceding in the U.S. election to Republicans’ advantage. Trump has repeatedly professed his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and has spoken of the U.S. reneging on its agreements to defend NATO allies.
“Mr. Chairman, I haven’t heard of any Russian hacking of the Republican National Committee. I’ve heard a lot about the Democratic National Committee. You’re giving us new information. You’re telling us that Russians hacked RNC emails and documents?” Blitzer asked.
“Yes, they have hacked into the Republican National Committee, so this is again — they’re not picking sides here, I don’t think,” McCaul said.
Blitzer noted that RNC Chair Reince Preibus said in July that his party had not been hacked. McCaul said he could not say when the hack occurred, but he affirmed that the party had been informed. He said that the extent of the hack was unknown and was the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation.
“It’s curious that they released Democratic party information and not Republican party information. It’s curious to me. I assume it is to you as well,” Blitzer said.
“It’s a question,” McCaul responded, offering that the RNC data might be released at a later date. He said that the hackers motivation was to “undermine democracy itself.”
Shortly after the CNN interview aired, McCaul sent Blitzer a statement saying that he “misspoke” when he said that the RNC was hacked. According to his brief statement, he meant to say that “Republican Political Operatives” had been hacked.
JUST IN from Sen. McCaul:
“I misspoke by asserting that the RNC was hacked…” pic.twitter.com/M7GPgbymJi
— Vaughn Sterling (@vplus) September 14, 2016
RNC communication director Sean Spicer took to Twitter to dispute what McCaul had said:
Contrary to reports, there has been no known breech of @gop networks
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) September 14, 2016
Sam Reisman (@thericeman) is a staff editor at Mediaite.
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