FBI Director James Comey has testified that, contrary to a statement offered by Democratic National Committee official, his agency had offered to investigate the organization's hacked servers several times but was rebuffed.
On Jan. 10, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in relation the hack against the DNC and the subsequent leak of its emails, an operation of cyber espionage that the intelligence community has unanimously assessed was committed by the Russian government.
During his testimony, Comey stated the FBI had repeatedly requested that DNC officials allow their agents to take a look into its servers. Instead, the DNC chose the investigative services of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity team that Comey described as a "highly respected private company."
"Ultimately, what was agreed to is the private company would share with us what they saw," Comey said.
The FBI director's testimony ran counter to the assertions of DNC Deputy Communications Director Eric Walker. On Jan. 4, Walker asserted the FBI had never asked to investigate the hacked servers.
"The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI's Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice's National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney's Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC's computer servers," Walker told BuzzFeed News in an email.
Walker added that the DNC had subsequently provided the FBI with "access to all of the information uncovered by CrowdStrike -- without any limits."
Comey's version of events closely mirrored Walker's account but differed on whether or not the FBI had requested access. In his view, it would have been helpful if FBI agents had been allowed to examine the servers themselves.
"Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that's involved, so it's the best evidence," Comey said.
CrowdStrike had concluded in its investigation that the hacks against the DNC had been committed by two separate sources, identifying them as the Russian intelligence agencies FSB and GRU, according to The Washington Post.
One anonymous intelligence official told BuzzFeed that while CrowdStrike was a private company, it had a solid reputation.
"CrowdStrike is pretty good," the official said. "There's no reason to believe that anything that they have concluded is not accurate."