Professional Oppo Research on Trump Basically Just Requires Some Googling, Suggests Allegedly Hacked DNC Document

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The Democratic National Committee headquarters is seen, Tuesday, June 14, 2016 in Washington. Sophisticated hackers linked to Russian intelligence services broke into the Democratic National Committee's computer networks and gained access to confidential emails, chats and opposition research on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, people familiar with the breach said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Photo: Alex Brandon/Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that “Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.”

The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and … security experts,” noted the Post. According to Crowdstrike, the cybersecurity firm the DNC called in to staunch the bleeding, the snooping and eventual heist involved two groups of hackers which Crowdstrike dubbed — a bit too cutely — “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear.” Both were working for the Russian government, but working independently. 

Someone claiming to be one of the hackers forwarded to Gawker what is allegedly one of the purloined documents, and Gawker embedded it in a post a couple hours ago (you can read or download the document itself here). Gawker’s Sam Biddle and Gabrielle Bluestone write that “according to embedded metadata [it] was created by a Democratic strategist named Warren Flood — [and] was created on December 19th, 2015.” While the reporters weren’t able to immediately confirm the authenticity of the document, which is titled “Donald Trump Report,” if it isn’t real then it took a Herculean effort to fake: It’s more than 200 pages long and certainly looks like an internal DNC document. (In addition to the “12/19/15” date stamped on the front, a search for the term “2016” only reveals references to the election cycle rather than to anything that occurred this year, but there are references to events from December 2015, suggesting it is, in fact, from six months ago.)

Seven pages into the report, as Gawker notes, the document lists five “Top Narratives” that the DNC apparently believes will be key to defeating Trump, each section headlined in all caps: TRUMP HAS NO CORE (that is, he says whatever he wants for people to like him), DIVISIVE AND OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN, BAD BUSINESSMAN, DANGEROUS & IRRESPONSIBLE POLICIES, and MISOGYNIST IN CHIEF. According to Biddle and Bluestone, “It appears that virtually all of the claims are derived from published sources, as opposed to independent investigations or mere rumor.” Among other issues, these sections raise Trump’s embrace of birtherism, his repeated false statements about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11, his call for a ban on Muslim entry into the United States, and the many bankruptcies he has racked up as a businessman.

This is a document from December, and surely there are various ways in which the Democratic anti-Trump strategy has evolved since then, especially as he started to knock out other candidates and assert himself as the presumptive nominee. But still, the document jibes with the commonsense notion that the Democratic Party doesn’t feel the need to make any particularly fancy or complicated arguments about Donald Trump — he is, by this point, an extremely well-defined candidate, for better or worse.