John Podesta, the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the direct target of Russian hacking, is shocked by reports of the FBI’s “lackadaisical response” to foreign interference in the presidential election.
The New York Times reported this week that federal investigators discovered a Russian cyber attack in September 2015 but failed to send a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials.
Instead, FBI agents left a voice mail message about the attacks with the DNC’s information technology help desk, and the former head of the bureau’s cyber division justified the response because the office was not “in the middle of the woods of Montana.”
Podesta wrote an op-ed published late Thursday in the Washington Post, where he blasted the FBI’s response in comparison to its dogged pursuit of alleged wrongdoing related to Clinton’s email server.
“What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server,” Podesta wrote.
FBI Director James Comey authorized thousands of hours of investigation of Clinton’s emails, which resulted in no charges but plenty of innuendo, because of what he called “intense public interest.”
But Comey disregarded the concerns of the rest of the intelligence community about Russian cyberattacks related to the election because he didn’t want to appear “political,” Podesta noted.
Podesta found that justification highly ironic, since Comey sent his “infamous” vaguely worded letter hinting at new evidence in the Clinton investigation just 11 days before the election.
He wondered why Comey, the FBI and Republican lawmakers were seemingly unconcerned about those cyberattacks and President-elect Donald Trump’s extensive ties to Russia.
“House Republicans who had an insatiable appetite for investigating Clinton have been resistant to probing deeply into Russia’s efforts to swing the election to Trump,” Podesta said. “The media, by gleefully publishing the gossipy fruits of Russian hacks, became what the Times itself calls ‘a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.'”
He called on Congress to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and the possible politicization of the FBI.
“If ever there were a case of ‘intense public interest,’ this is it,” he wrote. “What’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly.”