House GOP campaign committee confirms major email hack

Top NRCC officials were hacked but senior House Republicans did not know until they were contacted by reporters

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 4, 2018 3:01PM (EST)

Paul Ryan (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Paul Ryan (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

A new report reveals that four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee senior had their email accounts hacked during the 2018 election cycle – but senior House Republicans were not informed of the breach until earlier this week.

According to a report in Politico, an NRCC vendor detected an intrusion into the email accounts of four senior aides back in April, prompting an internal investigation as well as the notification of the FBI about the security breach. Although thousands of sensitive emails were exposed to an unknown third party as a result of the attack, the party officials reassured Politico that donor information was not compromised.

It is more controversial, though, that senior House Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana were not notified when the attack occurred. According to Politico, they weren't aware of the attack until the publication reached out to the NRCC for comment about the story on Monday. Committee officials justified the decision by arguing that they were concerned revealing that the attack had occurred would make it more difficult to apprehend the culprit (Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, who served as NRCC chairman this past election cycle, did not reply when asked for comment by Politico).

Party officials also told Politico that, while they could not say when the attack began or who perpetrated it, they privately suspect that it was a foreign entity due to details about how the attack was committed.

The NRCC hacking story is particularly embarrassing for Republicans as they not only attempt to explain their loss of control of the House of Representatives during the 2018 midterm cycle, but also how President Donald Trump famously bragged to CBS News in July about how the GOP had better security in place than the Democratic Party when officials from that organization had their accounts hacked during President Barack Obama's administration.

"I heard that they were trying, or people were trying, to hack into the RNC too, the Republican National Committee. But we had much better defenses. I've been told that by a number of people. We had much better defenses, so they couldn't," President Trump told CBS' "Face the Nation" at the time.

He added, "I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses, and they were able to be hacked. But I heard they were trying to hack the Republicans, too. But, and this may be wrong, but they had much stronger defenses."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2018 Midterm Elections Hacking National Republican Congressional Committee Nrcc Steve Stivers