Trump Campaign Adopts Right-Wing Media’s Clinton Server Canard To Deflect From Trump’s Alleged Russian Ties

Right-wing media pushed the idea that the supposed Russian hack and release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails also means that Russians hacked Hillary Clinton’s server and stole information. Eventually, Paul Manafort, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign chair, repeated the claim to deflect attention from Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. 

Experts Believe Russia Played Role In Hacking DNC Emails

NY Times: “Researchers Have Concluded That The [Democratic] National Committee Was Breached By Two Russian Intelligence Agencies. The New York Times reported on July 24 that researchers looking into the breach of DNC emails “have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies” that also may have been behind past hacks of the White House, State Department, and Joint Chiefs of Staff:

An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?

Until Friday, that charge, with its eerie suggestion of a Kremlin conspiracy to aid Donald J. Trump, has been only whispered.

But the release on Friday of some 20,000 stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, many of them embarrassing to Democratic leaders, has intensified discussion of the role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.

The emails, released first by a supposed hacker and later by WikiLeaks, exposed the degree to which the Democratic apparatus favored Hillary Clinton over her primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and triggered the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chairwoman, on the eve of the convention’s first day.

Proving the source of a cyberattack is notoriously difficult. But researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. And metadata from the released emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers. Though a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the same agencies are the prime suspects. Whether the thefts were ordered by Mr. Putin, or just carried out by apparatchiks who thought they might please him, is anyone’s guess. [The New York Times, 7/24/16]

Right-Wing Media Claim That Russia “Almost Certainly” Also Hacked Clinton’s Private Emails

Hugh Hewitt: DNC Email Release Is Message To Clinton That Russia Hacked Her Private Server. Radio host Hugh Hewitt told Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus that he believed Russia was “sending a message” to Hillary Clinton that the country has emails from her private server. From the July 25 edition of Salem Radio’s The Hugh Hewitt Show:

HUGH HEWITT (HOST): Now, Donna Brazile is a friend of mine. I know she’s a friend of yours. She’s very competent.


HEWITT: In fact, I’m kind of sorry to see Debbie Wasserman-Schultz go. Nevertheless, it’s chaos there. And it’s going to be chaos all week, because more emails are coming. And last night, Robby Mook tried to blame Trump for the Russians hacking the DNC when in fact, I think the Russians are sending a message that they’ve got her personal emails from her private server. What do you think the Russians are doing with this, Reince Priebus?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don’t even know if, I don’t know who has the emails of the DNC. I mean, I don’t know if we can definitively say who has them and who’s taken them. But the point is, the Russians didn’t write the emails. And neither did whoever else -- the Wikileaks people didn’t write the emails. The DNC wrote those emails. So they have to answer for what those emails say and why paid staff and donors to the DNC were adding an arm to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the primary season. I mean, it just is, it was ridiculous. And so, this is the issue they have to face this week. And so they have about, you know, 40 percent of all the delegates, maybe 45 percent of all the delegates that are here in Philadelphia, are here for Bernie Sanders. And what they’re learning today and this week is that the committee that they’re sort of partly celebrating took their person down, and they did it in a very dishonest and fraudulent way. [Salem Radio, The Hugh Hewitt Show, 7/25/16]

Dick Morris: “If The Russians Had The DNC Emails, Do They Also Have Hillary's Secretary Of State Emails On Her Private Server?” In a Facebook Live video broadcast July 25, conservative political commentator Dick Morris questioned whether the Russians’ hack of the DNC server also “proves that the Russians hacked” Hillary Clinton’s private server, saying that it “could really be the end of her candidacy.” From Morris’ broadcast:

DICK MORRIS: You know, the release of the emails from the Democratic National Committee -- the Debbie Wasserman Schultz scandal -- really could presage an enormous issue that could really knock Hillary out of the presidential race. If the Russians had the DNC emails, do they also have Hillary's secretary of state emails on her private server? And if they released them to WikiLeaks, which proves that the Russians hacked her server, and therefore probably the Chinese, the Iranians, the North Koreans did too? Proving that she violated national security in a fundamental way? That could really be the end of her candidacy. And the release of the Wasserman Schultz emails from the Democratic National Committee, may be a portent of a further email scandal that could really prove lethal to Hillary. [, 7/25/16]

National Review's Jonah Goldberg: “If The Russians Have So Much Leverage Over Clinton, Why Don’t They Want Her To Be President?” In a July 25 article, National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote that he agreed with Hugh Hewitt that Hillary Clinton’s private email server was “almost certainly hacked by the Russians” and that Russia probably knows “everything Hillary has sent or received.” In light of that assumption, Goldberg asked, “If the Russians have so much leverage over Clinton, why don’t they want her to be president?” Goldberg wrote:

Because Hillary’s private server was almost certainly hacked by the Russians, we should assume that they know literally everything Hillary has sent or received over it. Most intelligence and cyber security types seem to agree. Hence, Hugh [Hewitt] argues, Hillary is “compromised.” They have leverage over her.

So far, I’m pretty much with Hugh. But here’s what I don’t get. If the Russians have so much leverage over Clinton, why don’t they want her to be president? This morning, Hugh dangled a theory that the Russians were yanking her leash by showing they have the goods on her. They saved the server emails for later (or for blackmail), but released the DNC emails to brush her back, or something. [National Review, 7/25/16]

Rush Limbaugh: If Russia Has So Much Information On Clinton, “Why Not Let Her Win?” Rush Limbaugh said that although it has become “very apparent” that Russians led the hack into the DNC servers, it’s unlikely the emails were released to benefit Trump’s campaign. Limbaugh said the Russians “no doubt hacked” Clinton’s private server, and that if his theory is correct, “they could have a puppet as president of the United States.” From the July 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): It has become very apparent that the Russians did this, which has then led to the following questions. Well why? Why would the Russians do this? Why would the Russians want to destroy Hillary Clinton? Because folks, let me give you another thing that’s a pretty safe bet. A, this is by no means the end of it. There is going to be a whole lot more. If they hacked the DNC servers, then they’ve got everything, and who knows what else is on that? Who knows what else is on that? What if there’s email evidence on that server that they were colluding with Hillary? That Debbie blabbermouth was colluding with Hillary. Hillary’s out there denying it right now, but she’s got to be sweating bullets over this. But it’s not just that. If they were able to hack the DNC server, then they no doubt hacked her Chappaqua server. And so the thinking goes like this: If the Russians know everything that was on Hillary’s private server, and if they have everything on the DNC server, why destroy her at all? Why not see to it she’s elected and then blackmail her every day and get what you want out of her? Because if this is all true, the theory goes, they could have a puppet as president of the United States. Why would they use this stuff to take her out, even if [Donald] Trump thinks that he’s a good buddy with [Vladimir] Putin. Why in the world would the Russians rather have Trump as president, who’s a wild card, who they haven’t hacked, because there’s nothing to hack because he doesn’t use email, when you could own the American president? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/26/16]

Fox’s Steve Doocy: Rush Limbaugh Had “A Great Point.” Fox host Steve Doocy said that Rush Limbaugh had a “great point” when he asked listeners why Russia would want to help Trump if the country could “just wait and blackmail Hillary later.” From the July 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): The other big story is the WikiLeaks release of 20,000 emails, which really started to lay the groundwork to blow up this entire week, because it showed the DNC was plotting behind the scenes to make sure Hillary Clinton was the nominee and not Bernie Sanders. And the question was, the FBI said they will investigate how WikiLeaks got this and it looks as though --


KILMEADE: -- to the FBI, it does go back to Russia.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Well, the DNC was hacked. They knew a month ago. So it's just questionable why this came out right before the DNC. Debbie Wasserman Schultz lost her job because of it, had to step down. So they're wondering, is this a way for Russia to manipulate the election here or is it just what they would call routine cyber espionage.

DOOCY: Well, look. Rush Limbaugh had a good question regarding this because they're pushing the talking point that clearly they're trying to help Donald Trump. Rush said why would the Russians want to help Trump win when they could just wait and blackmail Hillary later, which is a great point. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/27/16]

Trump Campaign Capitalizes On Right-Wing Media Speculation

Manafort Deflects Trump’s Ties To Russia: “The Real Issue” Is Clinton’s Server. Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort deflected a question about Trump’s relationship with Russia and attempted to shift focus onto the possibility that Clinton’s server was also hacked: “If it was so easy to [hack] the DNC server,” Manafort asked, “how many countries have hacked into [Clinton’s] server?” From the July 27 edition of CBS’ CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE (HOST): Paul, let’s go back to this question of Russia and hacking -- two questions: One, did Russia do the hacking? Secondly, did they do it to influence the American political elections? Yesterday the president said, whether Moscow was trying to influence the presidential election, he said, “Anything is possible.” Can you tell us what you know about the relationship and what the campaign knows? And what Donald Trump believes?

PAUL MANAFORT: We have no relationship. This is an absurd attempt by the Clinton campaign to try and get the focus off of what the real issue is. The real issue isn’t even the Democratic National Committee server being hacked. The real issue is her server that was sitting in a closet in her home in New York that was unsecured. So you can imagine if it was so easy to do the DNC server, what the likelihood is that -- how many countries have hacked into that server? And that one had national security documents in it that are probably floating all over the world now. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 7/27/16]