Right-Wing Media Run With Imprisoned Hacker’s Evidence-Free Claim That He Breached Clinton’s Server
Research ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ
Right-wing media are credulously reporting claims from the extradited Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer,” who is currently in prison in Virginia, that he “breached” Hillary Clinton’s email server. The hacker has provided no documentation to prove his claims, and the FBI’s security review of Clinton’s emails has reportedly found no evidence of hacking.
Romanian Hacker “Guccifer” Claims To Have Breached Hillary Clinton’s Email Server
International Business Times: “Michael Lehel Lazar … Claims He Compromised The Email Server Of Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.” In a May 5 article, the International Business Times reported that Romanian hacker Marcel Lehel Lazar, also known as “Guccifer,” claimed to have “compromised the email server” of Hillary Clinton:
Marcel Lehel Lazar, who has previously hacked into the email accounts of high-profile American political figures — in one case leaking private paintings of former president George W. Bush — now claims he compromised the email server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, something the former first lady has always denied.
Lazar, who goes by the name “Guccifer,” is currently in prison in Virginia after he was extradited from his home country of Romania earlier this year. However, the hacker agreed to speak to reporters from Fox News and NBC while in jail about his claim that he hacked Clinton's email server in 2013.
Besides compromising email accounts linked to Bush, Lazar accessed Colin Powell’s email account, leaking details about his private life. In addition, he was also able to breach the email account of one of Clinton’s closest aides, Sidney Blumenthal. It was through this account Lazar says he was able to finally access Clinton’s email server.
Lazar was the first to reveal Clinton’s personal email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), but the hacker has not released any proof that he breached the email server.
“There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell,” Brian Fallon, Clinton’s press secretary, told NBC. “In addition to the fact that he offers no proof to support his claims, his descriptions of secretary Clinton’s server are inaccurate. It is unfathomable that he would have gained access to her emails and not leaked them the way he did to his other victims.”
An FBI investigation into Clinton’s email server has reportedly found no evidence of a security breach, but Lazar has claimed getting access was “very easy.” He told NBC the server was “completely unsecured” and “it was like an open orchid on the internet.” [International Business Times, 5/5/16]
Right-Wing Media Credulously Report Hacker’s Narrative
Fox’s Catherine Herridge: Lazar “Claimed He Easily – And Repeatedly – Breached Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton’s Personal Email Server.” Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent, Catherine Herridge, reported that she had interviewed Lazar, who “claimed he was able to access the server – and provided extensive details about how he did it and what he found.” Herridge acknowledged that “Lazar's claims cannot be independently verified,” but she claimed that the server “may have an electronic record that would confirm or disprove Guccifer’s claims.” From Fox’s May 4 report:
EXCLUSIVE: The infamous Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer,” speaking exclusively with Fox News, claimed he easily – and repeatedly – breached former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server in early 2013.
"For me, it was easy ... easy for me, for everybody," Marcel Lehel Lazar, who goes by the moniker "Guccifer," told Fox News from a Virginia jail where he is being held.
Guccifer’s potential role in the Clinton email investigation was first reported by Fox News last month. The hacker subsequently claimed he was able to access the server – and provided extensive details about how he did it and what he found – over the course of a half-hour jailhouse interview and a series of recorded phone calls with Fox News.
While Lazar's claims cannot be independently verified, three computer security specialists, including two former senior intelligence officials, said the process described is plausible and the Clinton server, now in FBI custody, may have an electronic record that would confirm or disprove Guccifer’s claims. [Added this part because it contradicts the FBI’s own statement that there’s no evidence the server was hacked]
In response to Lazar’s claims, the Clinton campaign issued a statement Wednesday night saying, "There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell. In addition to the fact he offers no proof to support his claims, his descriptions of Secretary Clinton's server are inaccurate. It is unfathomable that he would have gained access to her emails and not leaked them the way he did to his other victims.” [FoxNews.com, 5/4/16]
Drudge Report: “Guccifer: I Breached Clinton Server! ‘It Was Easy.’” On May 5, the Drudge Report featured a headline, which linked to Herridge’s report on FoxNews.com, that read, “GUCCIFER: I BREACHED CLINTON SERVER! ‘IT WAS EASY’”:[Drudge Report, 5/5/16]
Wash. Times: “‘Guccifer’ Claims He Hacked Hillary Clinton’s ‘Completely Unsecured’ Server.” The Washington Times' Victor Morton wrote, “A Romanian hacker who is being extradited to the U.S. told NBC News that he gained access to Hillary Clinton’s ‘completely unsecured’ private email server.” Morton noted that the hacker “first exposed Mrs. Clinton’s private email address and released to The Smoking Gun email exchanges,” which, according to Morton, makes “his claim plausible.” From the May 4 Washington Times article:
A Romanian computer hacker who is being extradited to the U.S. told NBC News that he gained access to Hillary Clinton’s “completely unsecured” private email server.
Marcel Lehel Lazar, better known by the name “Guccifer,” first exposed Mrs. Clinton’s private email address and released to The Smoking Gun email exchanges between her and longtime adviser Sidney Blumenthal, making his claim plausible.
Mr. Lazar, who is in custody in the U.S. on hacking charges, said Mrs. Clinton’s server was like “an open orchid on the Internet … there were hundreds of folders.” In a separate interview with Fox News, he said the hacking “was easy … easy for me, for everybody.”
Mrs. Clinton has always said her server was not breached. In a statement Wednesday night, the Clinton campaign said Mr. Lazar had no credibility, referring to “this criminal [speaking] from his prison cell.”
The statement said “it is unfathomable that he would have gained access to her emails and not leaked them” as he did in other cases.
But NBC reported, citing “a source with knowledge of the probe into Clinton’s email setup” that U.S. investigators intend to question Guccifer about the Clinton server. [The Washington Times, 5/4/16]
Fox & Friends: “Well, He Said It Was Really Easy, So If He Said It Was Easy, Maybe A Whole Bunch Of Other People Did Too.” Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that “if there is truth to” Lazar’s claim and Clinton’s server was “hacked by a third party,” that “could mean [Clinton] is indicted.” Co-host Steve Doocy added that the hacker “said it was really easy, so if he said it was easy, maybe a whole bunch of other people did too.” From the May 5 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Regarding her last point, apparently he was interviewed by NBC before he was extradited from Romania, which would have been, I believe, seven weeks ago. And he said he easily cracked into Hillary Clinton's email server. Why did NBC sit on the story for two months during this big presidential race?
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Without making it public.
DOOCY: Yeah, I wonder why. Why?
EARHARDT: The mainstream media. Well, if there is truth to this --
DOOCY: Are they trying to help somebody?
EARHARDT: If he is convicted for hacking into her email account, this does make the case that she was hacked by a third party, which could mean she is indicted as well.
DOOCY: Well, he said it was really easy, so if he said it was easy, maybe a whole bunch of other people did too. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/5/16]
But The Hacker Cannot Prove His Claim And The FBI Reportedly Found No Evidence The Server Was Compromised
NBC News: Lazar “Could Provide No Documentation To Back Up His Claims” And “The FBI’s Review Of The Clinton Server Logs Showed No Sign Of Hacking.” NBC News reported that Lazar “could provide no documentation to back up his claims, nor did he ever release anything online supporting his allegations, as he had frequently done with past hacks.” Moreover, “The FBI's review of the Clinton server logs showed no sign of hacking.” From a May 5 NBC News article:
The Romanian hacker who first exposed Hillary Clinton's private email address is making a bombshell new claim — that he also gained access to the former Secretary of State's "completely unsecured" server.
Lazar was extradited last month from Romania to the United States to face charges he hacked political elites, including Gen. Colin Powell, a member of the Bush family, and former Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal.
A source with knowledge of the probe into Clinton's email setup told NBC News that with Guccifer in U.S. custody, investigators fully intend to question him about her server.
When pressed by NBC News, Lazar, 44, could provide no documentation to back up his claims, nor did he ever release anything online supporting his allegations, as he had frequently done with past hacks. The FBI's review of the Clinton server logs showed no sign of hacking, according to a source familiar with the case.
Brian Fallon, national press secretary for Clinton's presidential campaign, said Guccifer's claims were baseless.
"There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell," said Fallon. "In addition to the fact that he offers no proof to support his claims, his descriptions of Secretary Clinton's server are inaccurate. It is unfathomable that he would have gained access to her emails and not leaked them the way he did to his other victims.
"We have received no indication from any government agency to support these claims, nor are they reflected in the range of charges that Guccifer already faces and that prompted his extradition in the first place," Fallon added. "And it has been reported that security logs from Secretary Clinton's email server do not show any evidence of foreign hacking." [NBC News, 5/5/16]
Politico: “An Internal Review Of Clinton’s Email Records Did Not Indicate Traces Of Hacking.” Politico reported May 4 that the hacker “did not provide documentation to support his claims,” and an “internal FBI review of Clinton’s email records did not indicate traces of hacking, a source familiar with the situation told POLITICO.” [Politico, 5/4/16]