WASHINGTON – Former Democratic National Committee Interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile said the DNC paid a great deal of money to make a “replica” of all of the information on their server and computers after the hacking was discovered last year and then “destroyed the machines.”
During a discussion about her new book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, Brazile was asked why the DNC did not immediately allow the FBI to examine its server after the hacking took place during the 2016 presidential campaign. Several cybersecurity firms, including CrowdStrike, attributed the hack to Russia.
“The first time I heard about the quote-unquote hacking, it was in June I heard about it. My machines had already started to have some really interesting – I had a DNC phone and a DNC computer and DNC email because as I mentioned I did a lot of stuff in the voting-rights field and [asked staff] ‘what’s going on?’” Brazile said during the event at the National Press Club on Tuesday evening. A staffer told her “‘we’re told to turn in all of our systems,’ so everyone turned in everything.”
The DNC hired CrowdStrike. “The person we hired was the former No. 3 at the FBI, and they worked it out. They got a list from the FBI of things the FBI wanted, and in that list of items that the FBI requested they asked for a replica or an exact copy of everything we had from our server, knowing that if we got rid of our server we actually would get rid of our entire database, our brain would gone and then essentially we would have nothing,” she added.
Brazile said the total duplication and remediation process after the hacking cost the DNC “millions” of dollars.
“We made a replica of everything and turned it all over to [the FBI]. We also let them see all of the evidence from all of the individual computers, from everything else. So we, trust me, it cost us quite a penny to make replicas and then we destroyed the machines and then bought the staff people new laptops,” she said. “If you can imagine this, right before the convention, these staffers had lost all of their data, all of their materials – everything was gone. Everything was wiped clean, but we made a replica.”
Brazile recalled the DNC having to decide whether to “shut down” or “kill” the server after the hack took place.
“We kept getting more spyware. They were so stealth. The operation was so stealth,” she said.
Brazile mentioned that former FBI Director James Comey had said during one of his congressional testimonies that the DNC did not cooperate with the FBI in terms of access to its server.
“Every time [the FBI] would say that about us, I would go after them and say, ‘What the hell are you talking about? We’ve given you everything you’re asking for,’” she said.
Brazile was asked by PJM for her reaction to the anti-Trump text messages exchanged between FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, for which special counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from the Trump investigation.
Strzok, as a top counterintelligence official at the Bureau, reportedly signed the documents that established the FBI’s July 2016 investigation into Russia’s influence in the presidential election. Strzok personally interviewed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In 2015, he helped manage the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“I believe there are serious attempts to discredit the probe. There are serious attempts to delegitimize what Mr. Mueller is doing. Early on in the investigation I called for an independent commission similar to 9/11, and unfortunately we didn’t go that route,” Brazile replied.
“The special counsel came as a result of Mr. Trump’s decision to fire Director Comey,” she added. “I would hope that both the House and Senate intelligence committees will continue their work and we review their conclusions and take steps to protect our democracy in the future.”