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WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday that former members of his presidential campaign staff had been targeted by hackers based in Russia in July 2016 and within the past 24 hours.
“In July of 2016, shortly after I announced I would seek reelection to the United States Senate, former members of my presidential campaign team, who had access to the information of my presidential campaign, were targeted by IP addresses with an unknown location within Russia,” Rubio said,.
“That effort was unsuccessful. I would also inform the committee that within the last 24 hours, at 10:45 a.m. yesterday, a second attempt was made against former members of my presidential campaign team … again targeted from an IP address from an unknown location in Russia. That effort was also unsuccessful.”
Clinton Watts, a cybersecurity expert who had testified in the earlier portion of the committee hearing, had suggested that Rubio could have been a victim of Russia’s hacking campaign during his unsuccessful run for president.
The Russians “win because they play both sides” – targeting both Democrats and Republicans – and would turn on President Donald Trump if they thought it was in their interest to do so, Watts said.
Rubio said later that he didn’t want to comment, but he ultimately changed his mind and told the hearing that he had been targeted twice by entities with IP addresses based in Russia.
Rubio has long been a proponent of a more aggressive policy toward Russia. In a 2015 op-ed, for instance, Rubio argued in favor of “enlarging NATO” and sending lethal arms to Ukraine to fend off Russian aggression.
“A more robust response to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine would reflect the same shared values that emerged victorious 70 years ago today,” Rubio wrote then. “That victory was not just about the defeat of an enemy; it was also about the spread of a sacred ideal.”