Darrell Issa Says He Wasn’t Briefed On Russian Hack of White House

“Russia is reassembling its evil empire in many ways,” the Republican said Tuesday.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
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Dustin Volz
April 7, 2015, 3:17 p.m.

Rep. Dar­rell Issa said Tues­day he was not in­formed of the de­tails of an ap­par­ent Rus­sia-backed hack that in­filt­rated the White House’s com­puter net­work last year un­til me­dia re­ports began sur­fa­cing earli­er in the day.

Issa was asked dur­ing a CNN ap­pear­ance by Wolf Blitzer if he was made aware of the sever­ity of the breach, which in­cluded ac­cess to non­pub­lic de­tails of Pres­id­ent Obama’s daily sched­ule.

“Only re­cently and from the same re­ports,” Issa, who serves on the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said.

Earli­er Tues­day, CNN re­por­ted that Rus­si­an hack­ers were able to ob­tain sens­it­ive—though not clas­si­fied—in­form­a­tion dur­ing its breach of the White House’s sys­tem, which was first con­firmed in Oc­to­ber. At the time, of­fi­cials ac­know­ledged the in­cid­ent but at­temp­ted to down­play its scope and ser­i­ous­ness, say­ing clas­si­fied files were not vul­ner­able and that com­puters were un­harmed.

“It’s more than just sens­it­ive,” Issa said. “Who the pres­id­ent meets with, where, when, even if it’s ret­ro­spect­ively, quite frankly, is ma­ter­i­al kept from Con­gress in many cases. So this is very sens­it­ive in­form­a­tion and it’s in­dic­at­ive of the fact that Rus­sia is re­as­sembling its evil em­pire in many ways.”

Issa’s in­dic­a­tion that he was un­aware of the de­tails of the hack sug­gests oth­er mem­bers of Con­gress may also not have been fully briefed on the mat­ter.

A Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­man tried to down­play the ser­i­ous­ness of CNN’s re­port in a state­ment is­sued Tues­day even­ing.

“This re­port is not re­fer­ring to a new in­cid­ent—it is spec­u­lat­ing on the at­tri­bu­tion of the activ­ity of con­cern on the un­clas­si­fied EOP net­work that the White House dis­closed last year,” spokes­man Mark Stroh said. “Any such activ­ity is something we take very ser­i­ously. In this case, as we made clear at the time, we took im­me­di­ate meas­ures to eval­u­ate and mit­ig­ate the activ­ity. As has been our po­s­i­tion, we are not go­ing to com­ment on the ref­er­enced art­icle’s at­tri­bu­tion to spe­cif­ic act­ors.”

The Rus­si­an hack­ers were able to enter the White House’s sys­tem via a breach made at the State De­part­ment, ac­cord­ing to CNN. Se­cur­ity ex­perts had long sus­pec­ted the two breaches may have been linked.

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