Russia has repeatedly tried to hack into the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings in what appears to be an effort to obtain dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, The New York Times found in a bombshell new report.
Specifically, the report said Russian intelligence operatives were searching for financial documents, emails, and legal records.
US President Donald Trump and his allies engaged in a months-long effort to force Ukraine to dig up or manufacture dirt on the Bidens, specifically related to Hunter Biden's work for Burisma Holdings.
Oren Falkowitz, a cofounder of the security firm that discovered the hacks, told The Times the attacks were successful and looked like "a repeat of Russian interference in the last election."
Russian military-intelligence operatives have been working to hack into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural-gas company, since at least November, The New York Times found in an explosive new report.
At the time, President Donald Trump's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Burisma were at the center of the US news cycle. Trump's interest in the company spiked after he learned that Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, served on the board of Burisma until earlier in 2019.
Since then, the US president has leveled unfounded allegations of corruption against the Bidens related to Hunter Biden's work for Burisma.
The Times reported that it's unclear what the Russian hackers uncovered or what they were looking for. But security experts told the outlet that Russian intelligence agents appeared to be digging around for dirt on the Bidens, which is something Trump asked the Ukrainian government, as well as his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several others, to obtain ahead of the 2020 election.
Those requests from Trump made up the basis of a sprawling impeachment inquiry that led the House of Representatives to impeach him last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The Times' report also cited a US security official as saying Russian hacking attempts against Burisma "appear to be running parallel" to efforts by Russian spies in Ukraine to obtain dirt that might embarrass the Bidens. Specifically, they're said to be searching for emails, financial documents, and legal records.
Area 1, the cybersecurity firm that discovered the attacks, found in a report that Russia's hacking technique with respect to Burisma bore some significant parallels to when it hacked into the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election and stole thousands of emails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
The Russian government disseminated those emails to the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks in an effort to amplify their effect and launch a disinformation campaign aimed at crippling the Clinton campaign.
Clinton has argued that WikiLeaks' document dumps were a key factor in her defeat to Trump in the election.
Area 1's report said the Russian hackers who attacked Burisma employed a tactic known as spear phishing to obtain sensitive information like usernames and passwords.
They then reportedly created dummy websites that looked like the login pages for Burisma subsidiaries and have since been pelting Burisma's employees with emails that look as if they're coming from within the company.
Oren Falkowitz, a cofounder of Area 1 and a former National Security Agency employee, told The Times the attacks this time were successful and looked like "a repeat of Russian interference in the last election."
The company's report said it "has also further connected this GRU phishing campaign to another phishing campaign targeting a media organization founded by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky." The GRU is the military-intelligence arm of the Russian government.
The US intelligence community determined with high confidence in January 2017 that Russia meddled in the 2016 race specifically to propel Trump to the presidency.
Trump has repeatedly refused to acknowledge those findings and has offered only a lukewarm endorsement of the US intelligence community's conclusions when under pressure.
In recent months, he has also peddled a bogus conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election, a talking point that's frequently pushed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to deflect blame for Russia's 2016 election interference.
There is no evidence that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, and there is no evidence that either of the Bidens engaged in any corrupt or legally dubious activity while the younger Biden sat on the board of Burisma.
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