John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential election campaign, knows more about the political damage hackers can inflict than most people.
- Mr Podesta’s email account was hacked during the 2016 US election campaign
- Russian agents were allegedly responsible, and gave the files to WikiLeaks
- He told the ABC governments “have to fear” interference in democratic institutions
Russian cyberattacks against the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign saw thousands of compromising emails from Mr Podesta’s personal Gmail account stolen, and later published by WikiLeaks in the weeks leading up to polling day.
Speaking to national affairs correspondent Greg Jennett for the ABC’s The World program, Mr Podesta said cyber security was an issue governments across the globe needed to increase their awareness of.
He made the comments while visiting Australia in the wake of last month’s hacking attempt against the Australian Parliament, which officials believe was committed by a foreign government.
The senior Democrat, who also served as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and was a senior adviser to Barack Obama, also reflected on the current pool of candidates for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination and what it is going to take to beat President Donald Trump this time around.
Hackers ‘weaponising’ information for political outcomes
“[Russia] thought there was a lot of return on investment to directly interfere, to hack into our systems, to weaponise that information to have a political outcome. One thing that is well worth remembering is that in 2008, both the Obama campaign and [John] McCain campaign were hacked by the Chinese security authorities. That was for an intelligence operation — I think [the Chinese] were trying to figure out what would either one of these candidates do once in office, it was bipartisan. I think what was different about Brexit, about [the 2016 US election], and I think what we have to fear, is the weaponisation of that intelligence to directly interfere in democratic institutions.”
On claims China hacked Australia’s Parliament and why
“The first question is do they have the capability, I think the answer to that is ‘yes’. Do they have the motive? I think again what we’ve seen by the Chinese so far has been largely an intelligence operation, [but] obviously on the private sector side they’ve also stolen intellectual property [and] used that to build their [own industries]. Of course the Australians were out with a firm position that they did not want to see their 5G networks compromised and excluded Huawei from participation in the build out here, and I think that the Chinese are known to retaliate for that.”
How Democrats can beat Donald Trump in 2020
“I think that what the Democratic candidates need to do is two things: one is to continue to make the case that [Donald Trump] is temperamentally unfit and unqualified to be president, that he’s made bad judgments, that he ran as a populist but he governs as a plutocrat … I think it’s kind of easy in his case because he proves it every day. Then you have to a provide a positive alternative, that you can get the economy going for the middle and for the bottom … But ultimately I think what Democratic voters are looking for is ‘who can take this guy on?’, ‘who can get him out of the Oval Office?’, who can get the country back on the path of inclusive values, and we have some exciting candidates who I think are going to be able to do that.”
“I would say right now there’s sort of three tiers of candidates. You have at the top Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, they both suffer from the fact that Biden’s 76 [years old] and Bernie’s 78 … There’s another group that have sort of busted out of the pack as it were, Kamala Harris, Beto [O’Rourke], they’ve added a lot of excitement to the race. I’d put Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker probably in that tier. Then there are a lot of people [who] are accomplished, people like Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor [John] Hickenlooper, Julian Castro the former successful mayor of San Antonio — but they’re all kind of sitting around one per cent in the national polls and in the state polls.”
Mueller investigation: 37 indictments and counting
“[Robert] Mueller’s done an incredible job, a professional job, he’s kept the whole thing buttoned up, he’s got 37 indictments, there are people pending trial like Roger Stone, [Paul] Manafort was just dirt on Hillary. So we know there was collusion, the question is was there a criminal conspiracy, and I think it’s worth waiting for Mueller to finally report and render his judgement and say what he thinks about the facts, and then the rest will I think fall into place.”
Watch the full interview on The World tonight at 10:00pm AEDT on the ABC News channel.