The Wall Street Journal cites “sources familiar with the investigation” in a Wednesday report claiming the Justice Department is close to charging six unnamed Russian government officials in last year’s reputed “hack” of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The Wall Street Journal claims the officials have been “identified” as being “involved” in the release of internal DNC emails showing systematic favoritism for candidate Hillary Clinton over rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Separately from the leak, that narrative was given independent verification Wednesday in an upcoming book by interim-DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile. She posits the DNC, in effect, turned over its operations to the Clinton campaign.
It is not clear from the reporting if the investigation referred to in the Wall Street Journal falls under Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, but the story notes, “It is unclear if prosecutors will hold back filing charges until Mr. Mueller completes his investigation or wait to identify others who may have played a role in the DNC hack. Investigators believe dozens of others may have played a role in the cyberattack, the people said.”
The Special Counsel’s Office has seen a flurry of activity this week, revealing a serious 12-count indictment against one-time Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his deputy, Richard Gates – unrelated to the 2016 campaign – and going public with the previously sealed guilty plea of a low-level campaign staffer for making false statements to the FBI.
The Wall Street Journal also claims, “U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the attack to Russian intelligence services, but haven’t provided detailed information about how they concluded those services were responsible, or any details about the individuals allegedly involved.”
Omitted is the infamous – and now discredited – “17 intelligence agencies” claim.
Also missing was any mention of the July report of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) group that claimed the leak could not possibly have been the result of a Russian hack. The validity of that study was called into question immediately upon its August publication by The Nation, and its accuracy would directly conflict with Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal report.
The six Russian officials are not expected to be in the United States or extraditable countries and the charges, it is implied, would be largely symbolic. Their issuance, however, would shed light on a narrative of Russian election interference that, so far, has remained effectively opaque.