DNC’s Trump File Leaks Online: Are Russian Spies to Blame?

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“Trump Is a Liar,” “Climate Change Denier,” “Bad Businessman,” “Trump Is Loyal Only to Himself.” No, these are not sound bytes snatched from the primaries or the titles of Hillary Clinton campaign ads. They are subheadings found in a 211-page playbook titled “Donald Trump Report.” Compiled by the Democratic National Committee, the beefy document–which includes briefings on Trump’s “Early Life” and “Business Ventures”–was hacked and obtained by what appear to be Russian-affiliated espionage actors in April and leaked online earlier this week.

Gawker was sent a cache of files that included the DNC’s playbook from “Guccifer 2.0,” whose alias is a nod to the Romanian hacker “Guccifer” who in 2013 hacked the personal accounts of George W. Bush and Colin Powell, the former secretary of state. “Guccifer 2.0” is claiming sole credit for the hack, but the cyber security firm CrowdStrike, whom the DNC turned to to investigate the matter, claims two separate, Kremlin-linked actors (nicknamed “COZY BEAR” and “FANCY BEAR”) are responsible.

“It’s the job of every foreign intelligence service to collect intelligence against their adversaries,” Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike told The Washington Post. “Their job when they wake up every day is to gather intelligence against the policies, practices and strategies of the U.S. government.” Henry is also the former head of the FBI’s cyber division.

The document does not contain any previously hidden, revelatory information regarding Trump, but it is a comprehensive look at the probable Republican presidential nominee’s life, business dealings and of course, vulnerabilities. There are 42 pages of “Top Narratives,” 19 pages of “Trump’s Career Overview,” and 118 pages under the heading “Trump on the Issues.”

According to the file’s embedded metadata, the document was created December 19, 2015 by a man named Warren Flood. Flood’s LinkedIn profile says he currently works for 63 Magazine, “the premier digital magazine for progressive political organizers.” Perhaps more relevant, he is also the president of Bright Blue Data LLC, “helping campaigns, organizations, and companies implement winning strategies using data, analytics, and technology.”

But more interesting than the document’s content is the motive of the Russian hackers and what it means–or doesn’t, in a time when state-on-state data breaches are the norm–for the geopolitical sphere. According to U.S. officials and the DNC, Russian spies dug into a trove of material, including DNC emails and the computers of some Republican PACs, or political action committees. “The purpose of such intelligence gathering is to understand the target’s proclivities,” Robert Deitz, a former general counsel at the NSA told The Washington Post.

Whether this was abnormal foul play or business as usual in an age of international cyber espionage, one thing is for sure: Donald Trump is not a fan of at least one thing that bears his name–the DNC playbook.

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at ASiegel@LawStreetMedia.com.



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