Thousands of top aides' emails at House GOP campaign arm hacked during 2018 midterms: report

The National Republican Congressional Committee was compromised for several months in the 2018 cycle.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Welcome to the club, Republicans! The email accounts of four top aides at the House GOP's campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, were compromised for several months in the 2018 cycle, allowing hackers to access thousands of email communications.

The hack came to light in April through an NRCC vendor, but House GOP leaders were never made aware of it, leaving Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in the dark until they were contacted by Politico about it. Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, who chaired the NRCC chairman this past election cycle, declined to comment.

NRCC officials decided not to publicize the incursion, they said, because they wanted to investigate it themselves. They also informed the FBI at the time. But the hack consumed senior officials at the NRCC throughout much of the election as they hired an outside legal team and public relations firm to contain the fallout. NRCC officials said none of the stolen information had been publicly disclosed.

It's a pretty stunning comeuppance though. Prior to the revelation, it was hard to foresee how Paul Ryan's leadership of the House GOP could go any lower. Now it may be just a matter of time before some really embarrassing information comes out. Of course, it also raises the specter that a foreign actor could use the stolen information to compromise House Republicans. If the hacked material contained anything truly damning, it could be held over the heads of GOP leaders.

Even amid the attack, the NRCC declined in the spring to join Congressional Democrats in pledging not to use hacked materials against its opponents in the campaign. Republicans—always thinking ahead—managed to make themselves more vulnerable to blackmail, even as Democrats sought to lessen that likelihood. Nice work, NRCC!

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