WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) — Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile said Russian hackers tried to break into the organization’s computers “daily, hourly” until after the election, contradicting President Barack Obama’s assertion that the hacking stopped in September after he confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“They came after us absolutely every day until the end of the election. They tried to hack into our system repeatedly,” Brazile told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday on This Week.
On Friday, Obama said at a news conference that Russia’s efforts stopped when he spoke to Putin at an international conference and told him to “cut it out.”
“There were going to be serious consequences if he didn’t,” Obama said. “In fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process. But the leaks through Wikileaks had already occurred.”
Brazile was concerned the government failed to prevent cyber-attacks of thousands of emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff, including Campaign Chairman John Podesta.
“We were attacked by a foreign adversary, and I think it’s the responsibility of the government to help individual citizens — as well as institutions, nonprofits, corporations — to protect us,” she said.
Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, and the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, agreed with her.
McCain, told CNN on State of the Union on Sunday the hacks threaten to “destroy democracy” and faulted the American response as “totally paralyzed.”
“This is the sign of a possible unraveling of the world order that was established after World War II, which has made one of the most peaceful periods in the history of the world,” McCain said. “We’re starting to see the strains and the unraveling of it, and that is because of the absolute failure of American leadership.”
“When America doesn’t lead, a lot of other bad people do,” he added.
McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, again called for a select committee to investigate the CIA’s finding that Russia hacked Democrats’ emails in a bid to help President-elect Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton and Putin approved it.
She sent a letter to Congress on Sunday on behalf of the DNC, asking for an independent, bipartisan commission to study the entire episode. Obama has ordered a “full review” by the government’s intelligence agencies into the cyber-attacks.
Brazile, who took over as chair months after the cyber-attacks had begun, also accepted that the DNC was partly responsible for the hack after leaving itself vulnerable.
“There’s no question; I took full responsibility … I spent the entire month of July, all of August, apologizing because of the leaks,” she said.
She added the DNC took “appropriate steps” to prevent another attack.
Brazille accused Trump of using the private information during the campaign.
“The emails were weaponized,” she said. “Donald Trump used this information in ways to also sow division. I was very disappointed in his repeated usage of some of the stolen information. He used it as if he received daily talking points.”
But she won’t blame the email release as the sole reason for Clinton’s defeat.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat what happened on Election Day. We, the Democratic Party, have a lot of things that we have to do. Donald Trump cracked the blue wall,” she said, referring to previous reliably Democratic-voting states Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. “He cracked the blue wall. We had a blue wall; we should’ve maintained it.”
But the cyber-attack and Clinton’s use of a personal email server while secretary of state were two “unprecedented” events that led to her downfall, the Democratic nominee told donors Thursday.
Robert Gates, Department of Defense secretary under Obama and Republican George W. Bush, said Sunday that the Obama administration, congressional leaders and Trump all lacked a sense of urgency surrounding the attack.
“I think that given the unprecedented nature of it and the magnitude of the effort, I think people seem to have been somewhat laid-back about it,” Gates told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on Sunday.
“And maybe part of the problem was that it took the intelligence community awhile to assemble really firm evidence of Russian involvement and Russian government involvement that delayed a response,” Gates, who also headed the CIA, added. “Attribution is a challenge, but it seems pretty clear to me that they’ve developed really reliable information that the Russian government was involved.”
And Gates said the efforts weren’t only an attempt to elect Trump.
“I think that Putin saw the United States withdrawing from around the world. The problem has been that President Obama’s actions often have not matched his rhetoric. His rhetoric has often been pretty tough, but then there’s been no follow-up and no action,” Gates said.
Trump has not commented on the hacking at thank-you rallies or on Twitter since Friday morning.
He last posted on Twitter: “Are we talking about the same cyber-attack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?”
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus suggested that Trump will accept that Russia is behind the hacking if the leaders of the U.S. intelligence community draft a report with consensus agreement. And he said, “I think they will get there.”
“I think he would accept the conclusion if they would get together, put out a report and show the American people they are on the same page,” Priebus said on Fox News Sunday.
But Priebus, who still is chairman of the Republican National Committee, said, “There’s no evidence that shows the outcome of the elections was changed by a couple of dozen John Podesta emails.”