Florida link: Mueller Russian indictment’s cryptic Sunshine States ties


Russian hackers tried to breach elections systems in “numerous Florida counties” in the final weeks before the 2016 presidential election, according to Friday’s bombshell indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officials by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The attempt “was not in any way successful,” a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State said Friday. Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said the county’s system was not affected by the hacking attempt.

Other apparent references to Florida appear throughout Mueller’s 29-page indictment, which does not charge any Americans with wrongdoing.

• The indictment says the online persona Guccifer 2.0 — identified by prosecutors as a front for Russian conspirators — passed along 2.5 gigabytes of information stolen from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to “a then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news” on Aug. 22, 2016. That’s similar to a 2017 Wall Street Journal report that a Broward County political operative and blogger, Aaron Nevins, asked Guccifer 2.0 for “any Florida based information” on Aug. 12, 2016, and received 2.5 gigabytes of data 10 days later, posting some of it on his blog. Nevins, who is not mentioned in the document, could not be reached Friday.

• Fort Lauderdale resident Roger Stone, a friend and adviser to President Donald Trump since the 1980s, is not named in the indictment, but communications with Guccifer 2.0 that he has publicly released are quoted in Mueller’s document. Reached by The Palm Beach Post, Stone said: “This exchange is entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails, as well as taking place many weeks after the events described in today’s indictment.”

• The indictment notes efforts to release stolen Democratic National Committee emails shortly before the party’s 2016 convention to stoke conflict between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The release of the materials three days before the convention led to Broward County U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz being pressed to step down as Democratic National Committee chairwoman during the convention.

• The indictment also notes that one Russian “spearphishing” effort to steal information from Clinton’s personal office began “on or about July 27, 2016.” That’s the date Republican candidate Trump, visiting his Doral resort in Miami-Dade County, made the statement: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” from Clinton’s private server.”

In addition, the indictment says that on Aug. 15, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.”

Neither the candidate nor the state in which he or she was running are named, nor is the amount of time that passed between the request and the response. Aug. 15, 2016, is the date Guccifer 2.0 released stolen DCCC strategy memos on several Florida U.S. House races as well as a 2013 dossier on Democrat Gwen Graham, who was a member of Congress at the time but did not seek re-election in 2016. Graham is now a Democratic candidate for governor.

Miami-based political consultant Anthony Bustamante told The Wall Street Journal in 2017 that he used some of the leaked data to help the 2016 general election campaign of Republican Brian Mast, who went on to win a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast U.S. House seat. But a Mast spokesman said at the time, and repeated Friday, that Bustamante had no involvement with the campaign after the Aug. 30, 2016 GOP primary.

Bustamante could not be reached on Friday.

“One hundred percent, unequivocally, Congressman Mast and his campaign had no contact whatsoever with Guccifer,” said Mast spokesman Brad Stewart said.



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