Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed accusations that his government's intelligence community is responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. That said, he is reportedly glad that the hack occurred.
On Sept. 1, Putin sat down for an interview with Bloomberg Politics. The Russian president fielded questions about Russia’s alleged role in the hacking and leaking of U.S. Democratic Party organizations.
“Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?” Putin said in response to the hacking of the DNC email system. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public.”
WikiLeaks released the emails from the DNC hack, revealing that the organization had an inappropriate bias against former presidential candidate Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
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“There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it,” Putin continued. “But I want to tell you again, I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level, Russia has never done this.”
Cybersecurity company Cyberstrike probed the DNC hack, hoping to determine who had hacked the organization. They found that the two parties responsible were Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, both intelligence agencies linked to Putin’s government.
The FBI firmly believes that Russia was behind the DNC hack, leading to concerns that Putin’s government may be trying to influence the U.S. election by obtaining embarrassing documents from the Democratic Party and then releasing them through platforms such as WikiLeaks.
The worry among Democratic lawmakers has grown so great that the Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, has formally requested that the FBI monitor any Russian attempts to tamper with the November election, ABC News reports.
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Putin waved off accusations that he hoped to sway the election, stating that critics are giving his intelligence community too much credit.
“To do that you need to have a finger on the pulse and get the specifics of the domestic political life of the U.S.,” Putin said. “I’m not sure that even our Foreign Ministry experts are sensitive enough.”
While U.S. officials do not believe that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is directly working with the Russian government, they do suspect that he is being fed intel by the Russian community, whether he knows it or not.
Assange has been more amicable with the Russian government than he has been with the U.S. government.
“He views everything through the prism of how he’s treated,” an anonymous source close to Assange told The New York Times. “America and [Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton have caused him trouble, and Russia never has.”
Another source said that while Assange would likely never directly accept data from the Russian intelligence community, “He was never too thorough about checking out sources or motivations.”
Putin maintains that his government is not involved with the continuing cyber espionage against U.S. political organizations, suggesting that the culprits could be anyone.
“You know how many hackers there are today?” Putin said.
Clinton spokesman Jesse Lehrich issued a statement in response to Putin’s interview, slamming the Russian president for calling the DNC hack a public good.
“Unsurprisingly, Putin has joined Trump in cheering foreign interference in the U.S. election that is clearly designed to inflict political damage on Hillary Clinton and Democrats,” Lehrich said.