Tracing Guccifer 2.0’s Many Tentacles in the 2016 Election

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Suspicions that Guccifer 2.0 was of Russian provenance surfaced from the moment it was created. The avatar brazenly engaged on questions about its origins and its work with journalists at BuzzFeed, Vice and The Wall Street Journal, telling The Journal in September 2016 that the accusation “made me angry.” Nonetheless, the suspicions never seemed to have interfered with its mission.

The G.R.U. was no newcomer to attacks in the United States: It had been central to previous thefts of emails from the unclassified systems at the State Department, the White House and, later, the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Anybody who was sophisticated about Russian behavior immediately spotted what this was — it was not like you needed forensic data or any real insight,” said Andrew S. Weiss, a Russia specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former staff member of the National Security Council.

The indictment fills in several critical gaps in the sequence of events that unfolded after the electronic break-in at the D.N.C. and its partner group, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which helps elect House Democrats.

Top D.N.C. executives, emails previously obtained by The New York Times show, knew by April 19, 2016, that the D.N.C. system had been compromised. The committee’s lawyers that day discussed plans to meet with senior staff members who were aware of the hack, some of whom had already alerted the F.B.I.

But just three days later — as the D.N.C. was scrambling to try to contain the attack — the conspirators procured gigabytes of data, including so-called opposition research, the indictment said. That suggests that the worst of the hack occurred even after the committee knew that its systems had been breached.

Guccifer 2.0 made its first public appearance two months later, on June 15, just days after the last Republican primaries. On its newly created website, the Guccifer persona announced it was releasing “just a few docs from many thousands I extracted when hacking into DNC’s network.” The new blog post included the Democratic Party’s secret research dossier on Mr. Trump.

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