- The Washington Times - Monday, July 25, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — With suspicions growing that Russia is to blame, the FBI on Monday confirmed it’s investigating a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee that resulted in the public release of nearly 20,000 internal emails.

In a statement released just hours before the Democratic Party convention kicked off Monday afternoon, the FBI said its agents are working to “determine the nature and scope of the matter,” but said nothing publicly about who might be to blame. The bureau also said it will “continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”

Word of the federal investigation comes as lawmakers increasingly point the finger at Russian actors for the hack, and as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign tries to tie the attack to Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump.

Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and his party’s ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, speculated Monday that Russian hackers may have actively tried to hurt Mrs. Clinton and help Mr. Trump by releasing the trove of emails. Some of the messages proved that DNC officials worked against Sen. Bernard Sanders and in favor of Mrs. Clinton during the party primary, flying in the face of previous claims by party leaders that they had been impartial during the process.

“If the hack is linked to Russian actors, it would not be the first time cyber intrusions linked to the Kremlin and its supporters have sought to influence the political process in other countries,” Mr. Schiff said in a statement.

“Given Donald Trump’s well known admiration for Putin and his belittling of NATO, the Russians have both the means and the motive to engage in a hack of the DNC and the dump of its emails prior to the Democratic convention. That foreign actors may be trying to influence our election — let alone a powerful adversary like Russia — should concern all Americans of any party,” he said.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has leveled the same charges.

“Experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, took all these emails, and now are leaking them out through these websites,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told ABC News on Sunday. “It’s troubling that some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”

However Wikileaks founder Julian Assange dismissed the claim about Russian involvement in an interview Monday with NBC News, saying “there is no proof of that whatsoever.” He also noted the Democratic incentive to create a “diversion,” a “meta-story” while “the real story is what these emails contain and they show collusion” by top party leaders to rig the contest in favor of Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, shot back that the charges of Trump-Russia ties are meant to distract from the content of the emails themselves.

“What they don’t want to talk about is what’s in those emails. And what’s in those emails shows that it was a clearly rigged system and that Bernie Sanders never had a chance,” he said Sunday.

Indeed, the emails showed that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other powerful party figures belittled Mr. Sanders’ campaign and plotted ways to sabotage his presidential efforts.

One message included high-level officials at the DNC discussing how to use Mr. Sanders’ supposed atheism against him, with the belief that this would work against him in conservative states such as Kentucky and West Virginia.

The backlash forced Ms. Wasserman Schultz out of her post Sunday, and on Monday she announced that she wouldn’t even preside over the convention’s opening ceremony. On Monday morning, she was booed at a breakfast speech, and she likely would’ve faced a similar reaction had she taken the stage at the party convention.

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