WASHINGTON — The ongoing hacking and leaking of emails and other electronic records from Democratic Party organizations’ servers has operatives in both parties worried that an “October surprise” or other consequence of the cyber crimes could throw more curveballs into an already tumultuous presidential campaign season.
“This feels like a new front in political warfare that could send both parties back to phones and fax machines,” said veteran GOP strategist Ron Bonjean. “These intrusions are a threat to democracy.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to congressional Democrats over the weekend after a hacker called Guccifer 2.0 posted personal and work email and phone numbers of Democratic staffers online.
Pelosi, who called the cyber theft “an electronic Watergate break-in,” said she’d received lewd voicemails and text messages before she changed her cell phone number.
Several Democratic House staffers confirmed to the Herald that they too have received phishing emails and texts as well as other spam messages on their work and personal email addresses and cellphones. Some received unwanted calls and voicemails before seeking to have their numbers changed as well.
The FBI has launched an investigation to the breach of Democratic servers, including the theft and WikiLeaks release from the Democratic National Committee email system before last month’s presidential nominating convention, believed to have been perpetrated by Russian hackers.
“This is a sad course of events, not only for us, but more importantly for our country,” Pelosi said in the letter to Democrats.
But the political fallout could cut both ways. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has vowed a steady release of additional information about Clinton from the hacks of Democratic Party servers. Meanwhile, Republicans could feel a backlash, given the Russian connection and recent comments GOP nominee Donald Trump has made praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggesting that the U.S. should “get along with Russia.”
“The Clinton campaign has done a good job of trying to make this about the Russians instead of owning up to the obvious unpleasant questions a lot of these revelations have raised,” Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak said, referring to emails showing potential ties between the State Department and Clinton Foundation staffers during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
But Trump has not capitalized on “the opportunity the Republican nominee had to go on offense against Clinton’s record with Russia as secretary of state.”
“That’s hard to do that if you are aligning with the Russian government and expressing warm feeling to one of the worst dictators in the world,” Mackowiak said.
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