Manhattan Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a prominent campaign surrogate for Hillary Clinton, said last night that she believes she was among the Democrats whose email accounts came under attack from Kremlin agents last year—citing Russian-language emails she received and blasting Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey for not doing more about it.
In December, then-President Barack Obama slapped Moscow with further economic sanctions and expelled a number of its citizens as punishment for dictator Vladimir Putin’s cyber-meddling in the American election on behalf of the GOP nominee. Intelligence experts had determined that two Kremlin hacking teams infiltrated the computers of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and shared thousands of pilfered emails with the site Wikileaks.
Speaking at a town hall on the Lower East Side that she co-hosted last night with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez last night, Maloney said she knew her account had been compromised when she “started getting emails in Russian”—an indictment, she asserted, of Comey.
“I even had a Russian handler who was contacting me, yet the powers that be that are national security people never talked about that like it was a problem,” the congresswoman complained, alluding to Comey’s decision to go public a week and a half before the vote with the revelation that his agents had uncovered emails “pertinent” to its investigation of the former first lady’s private server. “Yet someone alleged that Mrs. Clinton had gotten additional emails that they hadn’t even seen, that they later said weren’t important and they have that as a big push 11 days out before the election.”
Newsweek has reported that Comey wanted to go public with his team’s discovery of Russian interference, but that Obama overruled that decision, out of fear it would make the probe appear politically motivated.
Approached after the forum, the Maloney was hazy on details about the mysterious missives, saying she had deleted them months ago.
“We were just told that a number of Democrats, a lot of Democrats were hacked, a lot of us and other Democratic institutions were hacked,” she said. “I guess they didn’t find anything interesting ’cause they didn’t release anything on me but they released stuff on other people that they said this, they said that. But I was among those that were hacked.”
Other congressional lawmakers—including Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Manhattan Congressman Jerrold Nadler—have pushed for probes into Trump’s ties to Russia. The Guardian also recently reported that British spy agencies informed American agencies when it discovered contacts between Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence agents.
FBI agents repeatedly called on the DNC to inform the party organization that Russian hackers had penetrated its system, but never visited its office in person.
Maloney said last night she wants more concrete answers from intelligence agencies.
“So I’ve written and asked for an accounting from the intelligence agencies on, you know, how did they make this decision that emails you hadn’t seen was worth a public announcement and a denouncing of it yet the hacking and stealing of emails and information from Democrats—not Republicans, just Democrats—wasn’t even looked at,” Maloney continued. “Of course, they haven’t answered.”
But she said that Democrats should “stay focused on this” and get to the bottom of the matter. She remained hopeful that a federal probe would reveal all the information about the Kremlin’s intervention in American politics.
“Well I’ve gotta think that it’s a national security situation,” she said. “I’ve got to think that our Homeland Security professionals are looking at it, they’ve got to be. But they’re not making any public statements about it.”
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the FBI had obtained a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, had indeed received improper payments from the deposed pro-Putin government of Ukraine to lobby Washington on its behalf.
The discovery of a ledger indicating these cash transfers last year prompted Manafort’s resignation from Trump’s team. Numerous high-ranking members of Trump’s campaign and administration, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have confessed to holding previously undisclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Throughout the campaign and his presidency, Trump has expressed a strangely sanguine view of Putin. A retired British intelligence agent compiled a salacious dossier last year indicating that the Russian autocrat had blackmailed the mogul with secret camera footage of Moscow prostitutes urinating on a mattress for his pleasure.
Trump vehemently denied the document’s allegations.
Velázquez, for her part, said she recalled a letter she sent in December to the Department of Justice requesting the appointment of legal counsel and that she sponsored legislation to establish an independent commission to examine Trump’s ties to Russia.
“I am amazed to see, you know, some people talking about patriotism and here we are knowing that Russia interfered in our democratic election and there are some that are not committed to get to the bottom of how did it happen and who was involved and if there was any collusion,” Velázquez, said during the town hall.
Disclosure: Jared Kushner is the former publisher of Observer Media.