Now that the transcripts of House briefings related to the Russia investigation are out, it’s pretty clear why they’ve been locked down for years. They are a truly shocking condemnation of Comey’s FBI and the Mueller investigation. It’s really quite nutty that we had a parade of people testifying “no evidence” over and over again and yet this whole ordeal dragged on an wasted tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. And there remains a fraction of Americans who will still live in a world of cable news-inspired conspiracy theories about these events because the media won’t cover the facts and they’ll never seek out, let alone read, a primary source.
My favorite one so far is the testimony from CrowdStrike, the tech firm hired by Perkins Coie, a law firm that handles the party’s political wetwork at a distance that offers plausible deniability and the shield of attorney-client privilege. Note: There was never a direct contract between CrowdStrike and the DNC when it came to investigating the alleged hack of the DNC’s servers. Everything they received was a game of telephone, and everything the FBI heard about the hack was also a game of telephone. It had always been stunning at the time that the FBI never asked to inspect the DNC’s server physically, especially considering that hacking is a criminal enterprise. “We’d like to report a murder, sir. Would you like to check out the crime scene? Nah.”
Well, the plot thickens. If you make it 32 pages into the transcript, you learn that CrowdStrike never had any evidence that the DNC was actually hacked. They found no evidence that data stored on the DNC’s server ever left the server. All they found was malware on the server that seemed similar to attacks on government agencies that looked like the handiwork of a group associated with the Russian government.
Malware is not the same as being hacked. It could mean literally anything. You could put malware on a device just to screw with someone. In fact, a lot of malware is intended to be disruptive or to damage devices, or simply to provoke fear or frustration, not to send data outside of a network.
Oddly, this is compatible with what Julian Assange was saying all along about the DNC emails that he published on his Wikileaks site. He insisted that he got them from someone else, someone who was not a state actor. Doesn’t mean he was being truthful, but it is consistent as a matter of fact. Russia is also not the only adversary involved in the hacking / malware world and certainly not the most gifted. China was behind the massive Experian hack, for example. Iran took our Stuxnet virus and turned it back on our banking industry, taking down systems the likes of Citigroup. And they all like to frame each other to keep things interesting.
The thing is, everyone associated with the DNC has a terrible track record when it comes to technology and information security. Their last presidential candidate ran all her emails while at the State Department through an unsecured server in her basement that was slapped together by a campaign aide that she funneled money to off the books. Her campaign chairman famously fell for a phishing scheme. They have a whole network of sham tech companies that can’t even design basic apps to handle elementary school math during caucuses. No matter how much dough flows from Silicon Valley to the Democratic Party in a given election cycle, this crowd is more obsessed with keeping money and connections in their human inner circle than protecting themselves in cyberspace. And it backfires on them non-stop.
But this is a pretty hilarious confession, even with all that context. And it explains why we’ve never heard the FBI, DOJ, or Mueller crew say anything substantive about the DNC hack. There is nothing substantive to say. They can’t even confirm that it wasn’t entirely a figment of Comey’s imagination.
Which is another point to make here: The only reason CrowdStrike was ever hired to take a peek under the hood at the DNC (according to the transcript) was because Comey’s FBI reached out to the DNC to tell them they think they had been hacked and that the Russians were involved. This did not start with the DNC.
This is another circular firing squad. FBI tells the DNC that they’ve been hacked, even though they aren’t looking at the DNC’s equipment and have no idea. DNC hires a firm that hires another firm to look into it. That firm advises the FBI that they saw some interesting malware but cannot confirm a hack ever happened. FBI says, great, there was a hack, but chooses not to ask to inspect the devices involved themselves for, you know, actual evidence. Everyone agrees to blow up the US political system over a claim that they all know involves zero physical evidence. And that’s why the only testimony about it was behind closed doors. To protect all that classified information about something that they can’t even say happened.
And as long as there isn’t a DNI willing to declassify everything and dump it on the interwebs for the public to see, no one would have ever known any better.