Russian Hackers Gain Access to John Podesta’s Email Account
Months after Russian hackers began targeting the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta received a phishing email. This email, sent on March 19, 2016, allowed Russian hackers to gain access to roughly 60,000 of his emails. Podesta has stated that the FBI contacted him only once about this email hack, and that he was not aware his emails had been hacked until WikiLeaks began releasing the emails.
On October 7, 2016, The Washington Post published the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump boasts about groping women, dealing a major blow to the Trump campaign just a month before the election. Twenty-nine minutes after the tape was published, WikiLeaks began posting Podesta’s stolen emails online. WikiLeaks continued to post leaked Podesta emails throughout October 2016; in a concerning twist of events, Russian news outlet RT seemed to know about these leaks before they happened. On both October 13 and October 22, 2016, RT tweeted about a new batch of Podesta emails 30 minutes before WikiLeaks announced their release.
Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone also seemed to foreshadow these leaks, tweeting “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel” in August 2016. Although Stone initially denied having any contact with Wikileaks, he later revealed that he communicated with WikiLeaks through an intermediary. Stone did not reveal whether he talked with this intermediary about the Podesta hack, and he reiterated his denial of any “advance knowledge of the plan by WikiLeaks to publish [Podesta’s] hacked emails.”
On July 13, 2018, the Special Counsel’s Office filed an indictment that charged 12 Russian military officers in the hack and release scheme that included Podesta’s emails. The indictment confirmed prior news reporting on the hack, and contained remarkable details regarding the specifics of the operation.