Trump and his administration have been dogged by ongoing accusations and reports that they’re in bed with Russia. But a huge part of the story got lost in the controversy over the presidential election, and it implicates the entire Republican Party. In addition to the DNC, Russia targeted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and several Democratic House races with their cyberattack.
The hackers are Guccifer 2.0, according to a December report in The New York Times, and they made public the names, cell phone numbers, email addresses and even personal addresses of the Democratic candidates they went after. But they didn’t stop there – they also released batches upon batches of internal party documents, seemingly with the intent to influence the closest House races in the country.
And how is Paul Ryan involved in any of this? The National Republican Campaign Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, a superPAC that’s tied to Ryan, both used stolen D.C.C.C. documents to mount an attack campaign against Joe Garcia, a Florida Democrat who lost a very competitive race with Carlos Curbelo who unseated Garcia in 2014.
The illicit material was used in other states as well, including swing states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio and North Carolina; as well as in Illinois and New Mexico. Anywhere where Democratic candidates were in very tight races against their GOP opponents.
Whether Paul Ryan knew about the CLF’s use of material hacked by the Russians is anyone’s guess. The point remains, though, that his own super-PAC used information that came courtesy of Russia, which means that Russia didn’t just influence the presidential side of things — they influenced the Congressional side of things.
And it’s not like they had material that they genuinely thought was just flowing from some natural spigot. Several Republicans did refuse the chance to use the hacked documents in part because they knew it came “from a possible foreign source.”
The D.C.C.C.’s chairman, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, sent a letter to his counterpart at the N.R.C.C. when he first saw an ad that appeared to use the hacked documents:
“The N.R.C.C.’s use of documents stolen by the Russians plays right into the hands of one of the United States’ most dangerous adversaries. Put simply, if this action continues, the N.R.C.C. will be complicit in aiding the Russian government in its effort to influence American elections.”
And that’s what’s happened. Russia had its hands in far more than our presidential election and calls the results of every federal race in 2016 into serious question. The Republicans ran with the material, which does, in fact, make them complicit in Russia’s meddling.
Featured image by Win McNamee via Getty Images