Russian military spies have hacked the Ukrainian gas company that became central to Donald Trump’s impeachment after the revelation that Trump demanded Ukraine open an investigation into the company. The board members of the gas company, Burisma, included the son of Trump’s chief 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump hoped to raise questions about that board post and any potential corruption on the part of the Bidens, though there has been zero evidence of foul play.
The hacking effort began in early November when the GRU, Russia’s intelligence agency, began a cyber “phishing” expedition that sent bogus emails to employees of Burisma Holdings, according to the California-based company Area 1 Security. The goal was to get Burisma employees to click on the emails so GRU spies could gain access to internal information and data about the company. The phishing campaign’s timing paralleled the congressional impeachment inquiry into Trump. Area 1 Security’s chief executive, Oren Falkowitz, says the GRU successfully breached Burisma and several of its subsidiaries and partners, according to the Washington Post.
Falkowitz couldn’t be certain exactly what kind of information the GRU accessed or what the Russians planned to do with it, but the discovery sets off alarm bells as the United States barrels toward the 2020 election.
“The timing of the GRU’s campaign in relation to the 2020 U.S. elections raises the specter that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyberattacks undertaken during the 2016 U.S. elections,” Falkowitz told the Post.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in hopes of electing Trump over Hillary Clinton. In the years since the election, it’s become clear that Russia conducted a concerted and pervasive effort at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nonetheless, Trump has latched on to a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election in an attempt to boost Clinton’s candidacy. It’s a completely idiotic and unsupported notion that Trump just can’t let go of.
House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff said Tuesday that it appeared Russia was preparing to help Trump win reelection in 2020. “It certainly looks like they are at it again with an eye towards helping this president,” Schiff told a cadre of reporters on Capitol Hill. “We all have to denounce any further meddling in our elections. Americans should decide American elections.”