Politics

Indictment: Congressional Candidate Sought Info From Russians

Request for info from Russian operatives came in August 2016

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III announced Friday that a congressional candidate contacted Russian operatives for information in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The indictment of 12 Russian military officers for attempting to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election revealed that a candidate for Congress sought information from Russia.

The indictment stated that on Aug. 15, 2016, the conspirators posing as the “Guccifer 2.0” online persona received a request for stolen documents from a congressional candidate.

The Russian operatives, under the Guccifer 2.0 persona, responded and sent the candidate stolen documents.

Former Nebraska Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, who lost his 2016 race for re-election to Republican Don Bacon, revealed in a Facebook post Friday that “Russian agents” had hacked his campaign emails.

Watch: Rosenstein Announces Indictment of 12 Russian Officials

Ashford, who lost a comeback bid this year in the Democratic primary, also said President Donald Trump should cancel his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meredith Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement that the “DCCC was the victim of a cybersecurity intrusion during the 2016 election cycle, and this indictment relates to that incident.”

Kelly said the committee was cooperating with the investigation and could not comment further at the time.

The DCCC confirmed that it had been hacked as early as July 2016, saying the incident appeared linked to the hack of the Democratic National Committee that same year.

In August 2016, the Russians behind the hack publicly released a trove of information online on Democratic lawmakers and candidates, including some of their personal phone numbers.

Among the leaked documents was a DCCC candidate memo for the Democratic primary in Florida’s 18th District between Jonathan Chane and Randy Perkins. 

Perkins won the primary, but lost to Republican Brian Mast in the general election that November. 

Mast’s office denied that he was the candidate mentioned in the indictment who made contact with the Russian hackers to procure information.

“Congressman Mast and his campaign 100 percent did not have any contact with Guccifer,” a Mast spokesman told HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard.

Another name being floated on the internet is Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Ryan A. Costello.

Guccifer 2.0 leaked documents on the DCCC’s ultimately unsuccessful efforts to recruit Marian Moskowitz to enter the Democratic primary against Mike Parrish, whom party officials did not like. At the time, Costello’s campaign said it would not use the information in negative ads against Parrish, who ended up winning the Democratic nomination but lost by double digits to Costello in the general election.

Guccifer 2.0 leaked the documents from Costello’s district just a week after the congressional candidate in the indictment asked the Russians for information on their opponent.

Costello denied Friday that he is the congressional candidate referred to in the indictment and tweeted that he has asked the Justice Department to “clarify if the candidate was ever elected.”

Releasing that information would “help narrow the pool,” he said, adding, “Maybe they can’t do so for some ongoing investigative reason.”

After a new congressional map in Pennsylvania changed his district lines this year, Costello opted not to run for re-election

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.