In the Senate Intelligence Committee’s first open hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) revealed that Russian hackers may have targeted his former presidential campaign staffers—as recently as this week.
In the morning session of the hearing, former FBI agent Clint Watts said he believed Rubio was among the candidates from both parties that Russia aimed to discredit due in particular to their “adversarial views towards the Kremlin.” Rubio did not respond to the allegation in that morning session, and his office did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
But when the hearing reconvened in the afternoon, Rubio said that while he couldn’t comment on the former agent’s allegation that he was targeted during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, he could confirm he has been targeted at least twice since bowing out.
“In July of 2016, shortly after I announced I would seek re-election to the United States Senate, former members of my presidential campaign team who had access to the internal information of my presidential campaign were targeted by I.P. addresses with an unknown location within Russia,” he said. “That effort was unsuccessful.”
“I’d also inform the committee that within the last 24 hours, at 10:45 a.m. yesterday, a second attempt was made, again against former members of my presidential campaign team who had access to our internal information, again targeted from an I.P. address from an unknown location in Russia,” he continued. “That effort was also unsuccessful.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee is examining, among other factors, Russia’s use of hacking, selective leaking and social media bots to spread disinformation and create political divisions to weaken confidence in the American electoral system.
Rubio noted the hacking directed at his own campaign, as well as that of Hillary Clinton, is “just a tactic to further the broader goal.”