A confessed Russian hacker has gone public with details that could completely undermine the constant denials made by both President Donald Trump and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin over Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Konstantin Kozlovsky is currently sitting in a Russian jail cell after he confessed in court in early December that he hacked into the Democratic National Committee servers in mid 2016 and stole tens of thousands of emails, many of which became public after Wikileaks released them.
He said he did so on orders from the FSB, the successor spy agency of the notorious KGB of the old Soviet Union.
RAIN TV, one of the very few independent television networks left in Russia, interviewed Kozlovsky behind bars and made the substance of that interview available to the public Wednesday.
Kevin G. Hall from McClatchy D.C. analyzed the interview and reported Wednesday that “Kozlovsky said he worked with the FSB to develop computer viruses that were first tested on large, unsuspecting Russian companies, such as the oil giant Rosneft, later turning them loose on multinational corporations.”
More from McClatchy:
“Kozlovsky said he feared his minders might turn on him and planted a ‘poison pill’ during the DNC hack. He placed a string of numbers that are his Russian passport number and the number of his visa to visit the Caribbean island of St. Martin in a hidden .dat file, which is a generic data file.”
Kozlovsky is even naming names. He claims that, for at least seven years, he’s been working for Major Gen. Dmitry Dokuchayev, who he says gave him the direct order to hack into the DNC servers, according to RAIN’s account of the interview. This is the same Dmitry Dokuchayev named in an arrest warrant issued by a federal court in San Francisco in February of this year for his involvement in one of the massive Yahoo! hacks that took place in 2014. He even made it onto an FBI “most wanted” poster soon after his indictment.
The consequences of his confession and the digital breadcrumbs he left behind are potentially explosive. Vladimir Putin has insisted from the beginning that there was no Russian government-ordered meddling into the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Any claims to the contrary are false, and any evidence offered to support those claims were manufactured by dubious U.S. intelligence agencies to frame Russia.
Despite the conclusive certainty reached by U.S. intelligence agencies under both the Obama and Trump administrations, President Trump himself still isn’t certain who to believe: his own intelligence community, or Vladimir Putin?
“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One after meeting Putin in Vietnam in November. “I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
If Kozlovsky did leave this “poison pill” behind, and U.S. investigators can find it, it would demolish this narrative once and for all. It would also force President Trump to confront the truth publicly in a way he’s managed to avoid to this day.
The closest he’s come to admonishing Russia for meddling in the election is when he told reporters after a top secret briefing on the matter by top intelligence officials during the transition that he thought Russia probably conducted the cyber operation to undermine the election, but added a caveat that, “it could have been others also.”
The president, his associates, and their allies in the right wing media have been busy the last several weeks attacking the credibility of the multiple investigations by congress and special counsel Robert Mueller. Both are trying to get to the bottom of Russia’s operation to undermine the 2016 election and the role that members of the Trump campaign played in its execution, if any.
The president is already on record wildly promoting the Wikileaks document dump that made thousands of the stolen DNC emails public and helped sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And we learned in November that Wikileaks established a back channel with Donald Trump, Jr. during the campaign.
Not only that, the timing of some of Trump’s statements, as well as other statements by some of his closest advisors, seem to coincide with the timing of Wikileaks document dumps.
U.S. intelligence has long known that Wikileaks is a favorite tool of the Kremlin, something both its leader, Julian Assange, and Trump’s allies are trying to deny.
If it can be established beyond all doubt that the hacked DNC emails released by Wikileaks were curated by Russian hackers like Konstantin Kozlovsky, then the entire façade of Trump’s defense will come tumbling down.