There’s an interesting factoid noted in the special counsel indictment, released Friday, of 12 Russian intelligence operatives for hacking various Hillary Clinton-related Democrats during the 2016 campaign via the technique of “spearphishing“:
22. The Conspirators spearphished individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign throughout the summer of 2016. For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.
As was quickly noticed by a number of observers, July 27, 2016 is the same day that Trump made his infamous and seemingly facetious request to “Russia” to find emails from Clinton’s Secretary of State tenure that she had deleted, on the grounds that they were purely personal, before turning over her server archive to the State Department. Trump made the remarks—”Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” at a press conference in Doral, Florida.
Some context: According to the indictment, Russian operatives had already hacked and attempted to hack the Democratic National Committee and other Clinton-related targets before July. (The indictment says the hacking started in March.) What’s being alleged (with seemingly intentional specificity) is that the Russians didn’t target Clinton’s “personal office” until the day that Trump asked them to.
At the time—in fact, during other comments on July 27—Trump publicly questioned whether Russia had in fact been behind any hacking. Here’s what he said July 27 about comments about Russian involvement by Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook:
And then I see [the] campaign manager, I don’t know, a young guy, nice guy, who knows. And he’s on television and he said that Russia hacked them. Right? No, no, he said Russia hacked them. And I said, huh, how does he know? He doesn’t really know, but he said Russia hacked them.
Well before Trump made these comments, we now know, Donald Trump Jr. and campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos had both been approached by intermediaries who told them that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton. Whether any information about the “dirt” had been passed to Trump himself, though, remains one of the many million-dollar questions that’s still (publicly) unanswered.