What Did Wikileaks Do with the DCCC Emails It Monopolized?

Yesterday Buzzfeed did a story that adds important details to this report from the New Yorker last year.

In mid-August, Guccifer 2.0 expressed interest in offering a trove of Democratic e-mails to Emma Best, a journalist and a specialist in archival research, who is known for acquiring and publishing millions of declassified government documents. Assange, I was told, urged Best to decline, intimating that he was in contact with the persona’s handlers, and that the material would have greater impact if he released it first.

First, Buzzfeed describes the emails clearly as the DCCC documents (though elsewhere this article remains unreliable on some facts about what documents were what).

As Best describes, she had reached out to Guccifer 2.0 when he had asked for assistance from journalists, and ultimately then reached out to Wikileaks.

Best told BuzzFeed News she first reached out to Guccifer 2.0 in August 2016 after it posted on its WordPress account a call for journalists who wanted its files. “I sent them a Direct Message and referred to that, asking what they had in mind,” Best told BuzzFeed News over Signal. Best has experience posting large data sets, and wondered if she could host the files on archive.org, a nonprofit digital library.

But Guccifer 2.0 had another idea. “[I] gonna send a large trove to wikileaks,” it said. Best, who had DMed with WikiLeaks before, relayed that message to WikiLeaks in a direct message on Twitter. Neither party conveyed to her whether they had interacted together before.

“I told them that Guccifer 2.0 was considering giving me at least part of the cache, which is when they asked me to be their ‘agent,’ which they said I would get ‘credit’ for,” Best said. She didn’t agree to act as Assange’s agent, she said, but stopped messaging with Guccifer 2.0.

Note, this exchange shortly follows the release by Best and Wikileaks of some Turkish emails under some interesting circumstances.

Best’s outreach led to the conversation with Wikileaks, the Wikileaks side of which Buzzfeed includes.

The following is the entirety of WikiLeaks’s messages to Best that night, according to the emails she provided. All times are ET. (Twitter does not send a user copies of their own messages, so the contents Best provided are one-sided.)

8:43 p.m.: please “leave” their conversation with them and us

8:43 p.m.: we would appreciate it if you did not dump the docs and obviously archive.org will delete them anyway

9:12 p.m.: Impact is very substantially reduced if the “news” of a release doesn’t co-incide with the ability to respond to the news by searching

9:13 p.m.: non-searchable dumps are just channeled into a few orgs with technical resources. then others won’t touch them because they perceive that the cherries have all been picked by techdirt or whatever.

9:14 p.m.: and these other media groups are very likely to take a stupid initial angle

9:15 p.m.: “We don’t know if its true. Possibly russians who knows blah blah blah” because they don’t properly verify prior to publication and are scared because they’re not us, contaminating the entire release

9:18 p.m.: in that regretable event, from our perspective, please just act as our agent we can ensure you get the right credit, cross promotion etc.

As Buzzfeed notes, at 10:16 PM ET that day, Guccifer 2.0 tweeted that he would give the documents to Wikileaks (though Buzzfeed incorrectly says Guccifer 2.0 said “it had handed those documents over” to Wikileaks; the tweet in fact describes doing so prospectively).

Buzzfeed emphasizes that this proves Wikileaks knew that it obtained documents from Guccifer 2.0, and not Seth Rich (though this is one reason why Buzzfeed’s conflation of the email sets is problematic, as the Rich conspiracy pertains necessarily to the DNC documents, not the DCCC ones). Showing Wikileaks in direct coordination with Guccifer 2.0 is important.

Equally important, however, is that Wikileaks never released the DCCC documents. Having laid out reasons why it, rather than Best, should release them (because they could make them searchable, because other media outlets would take a stupid initial angle, because other outlets would emphasize the Russian source), Wikileaks then sat on them, if indeed they ever obtained them.

Meanwhile, five minutes after saying he’d dump the DCCC documents to Wikileaks, at 10:23 PM, Guccifer 2.0 sent the first tweet in what would become an exchange via DMs with Roger Stone.

Among the things Guccifer 2.0 did in that exchange was twice try to get Stone interested in the DCCC documents he was posting (though Stone did not respond).

Similarly, also on August 12, Guccifer 2.0 started discussing sharing the emails with a Republican operative named James Bambanek who says, in a recently published report that probably misunderstands one goal of Guccifer 2.0’s actions, he was conducting infosec research.

Elsewhere, Bambanek says he turned over every message immediately to the FBI, but as he notes, they would have been monitoring all this in any case.

Every [direct message] I sent, every [one] I received was turned over to the FBI immediately. I assumed they would have been monitoring the account to begin with,” Bambenek said.

Publicly, we know that Guccifer was also sharing the DCCC documents with other Republican operatives around the country. While some of these documents were unexciting, others provided the Democrats’ oppo research for congressional races. Florida was one of the states where the documents might be said to have helped Republicans (which is not coincidentally where Mueller’s focus on the Internet Research Agency seems to be).

What seems to have happened, then, is that by getting Best to agree not to publish the emails, Guccifer 2.0 then offered them up to a series of Republicans who would (whatever value the actual documents did or didn’t have) then be implicated in obtaining campaign documents from a presumed Russian source.

Contrary to what Wikileaks said, there’d be no way Republican operatives would let actually useful documents go unused, regardless of how much work they had to do to search for them. But by convincing Best not to publish them in bulk (and by not publishing them themselves!), Wikileaks created the opportunity for Guccifer 2.0 to implicate at least a handful of Republican operatives around the country.

Yes, in Bambanek’s case that happened with the knowledge of the FBI. But how many other Republicans didn’t think to admit to the FBI what they were doing?

Update: When the New Yorker story came out last August, Best said she did not know what she was being offered. I’m assuming they were the DCCC docs from the context, timing, and related actions with state based Republicans, but that may not be the case.

58 replies
  1. Trip says:

    Wikileaks created the opportunity for Guccifer 2.0 to implicate at least a handful of Republican operatives around the country.

    Marcy, are you inferring intent or happenstance?

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Implication might be collateral damage.  Getting the info out in ways that would help Republicans in statistically significant ways (individual and total electoral victories = control of Congress) might well have been the goal.

    As for implication, it would generate dysfunction and chaos in American political, diplomatic and legal circles when discovered. Those also seem to be among Putin’s goals.

    • Willis Warren says:

      I don’t think “mayhem” is the reason the Russkies favor the Republicans.  There’s a deeper love there and a recognition that Republicans are more corrupt.  I can’t help thinking the Kochs made all of this possible by buying the Republican party and stocking it with dorks.

      The Russians are just richer than the Kochs

      • seedeevee says:

        That’s a punchline for a great Joke of the Day – “Republicans are more Corrupt”

        There vastness of corruption in politics leaves no second place.

  3. Trip says:

    Not directly related, but I don’t understand why Peter Smith decided to do the WSJ interview (on the quest for the Clinton server deleted emails) before killing himself. If he was going to commit suicide due to bad health, anyway, why reveal these efforts at all? Why connect Flynn? Last minute bout of conscience? Bragging?

    Like Marcy’s article, Smith told the WSJ that the batch of emails his group uncovered were never published by WikiLeaks.

      • Trip says:

        True. He admitted he didn’t know whether they were legit or not. He couldn’t find anyone to verify, so he told them to dump it on Wikileaks.

        But do you have any insight into his last minute decision to divulge all of this? For what purpose do you “confess” these actions and then off yourself 10 days later?  It’s just so very strange.


    • Galactus-36215 says:

      “why Peter Smith decided to do the WSJ interview (on the quest for the Clinton server deleted emails) before killing himself.”

      It may be that there was some event between the time he agreed to do the interview and the date of his suicide. IMHO, it sounds like that when he agreed to do the interview, he was not contemplating taking his own life, yes? Therefore, something changed between the time he decided to do the interview and the time that he killed himself.

      And if this time was only a 10 day timeframe, it would be reasonable to assume that he came into some sort of new information that pushed him over the edge. Smith was found near the Mayo clinic in MN. It’s not unreasonable that maybe he went to the Mayo clinic for personal reasons and got bad news.

      • Galactus-36215 says:

        A Chicago Tribune story says that Peter Smith left a suicide note saying he was ill.

        Also, the hotel he was found in was used almost exclusively for the Mayo Clinic. I’ve lived in MN and have been out that way before in my youth. There ain’t much out there. MN has lots of small towns. The Mayo Clinic is near Rochester MN. I went out there several years in a row while in HS. It’s farmland. There really isn’t a reason for anyone to go out there except to visit family or to go to the Mayo Clinic.

        The suicide note said his insurance was also running out which would be a good reason to off yourself instead of financially bankrupting your family while at the age of 81.


        • Trip says:

          I know background on his death. Clearly, he knew he wasn’t in great health before, perhaps, he realized that he was in worse health. It still doesn’t explain why he decided to do the tell-all with the WSJ. His choice of suicide method was unusual too, although it was reportedly not unheard of. However, police never bothered to look at video to see who actually purchased the helium, which seems like they weren’t going to look beyond suicide, anyway. He probably did commit suicide. But why did he expose his involvement (and others), at all?  For glory?

          “The magnitude of what he was trying to do was kind of impressive,” Johnson said. “He had people running around Europe, had people talking to Guccifer.”


          • Trip says:

            My opinion is that he was cognizant of  his health condition when deciding to give the interview, FWIW; that and a couple of bucks will buy you a cup of coffee.

            I just can’t figure out why.

            • Galactus-36215 says:

              My apologies for not being clear. What I’m saying is that he had an appointment with Mayo Clinic after he made date with WSJ. At that meeting at the Mayo Clinic, he received such overwhelming news regarding his health that it was not possible to live with. I’m suggesting that this final meeting at the Mayo Clinic was the catalyst for his committing suicide. That he received such horrible information that he didn’t want to continue living.

              Unfortunately, we can’t know for sure for many reasons. One of which would be Doctor/Patient confidentiality. Another is that we can only speculate what he was thinking at the time. Perhaps he thought he had longer to live to complete his work and found out something different. Perhaps the clinic was advising him to check in immediately. We can’t really know for certain.

              I think my original statement is not that far off the mark. He received some information so overwhelming to him (from the Clinic) that he decided to kill himself right there in Rochester after receiving it. His place of death is also a factor to consider. He didn’t even go back to his family, etc.

              Do you know if an autopsy was ever performed?

              • Trip says:

                I understood you, Galactus-36215. Your opinion is valid, although I don’t think it was a spur of the moment decision, that’s just my perspective.  But none of us know, so it’s all speculation. I don’t think you are required to perform autopsies on suicides, (if police say it looks obvious), but I’m not an ME, so I don’t know.

          • greengiant says:

            From politico,  Smith “and was advised to seek the help of a white nationalist hacker who lives in Ukraine.”   Well just write on by the Gamergate connections of Chuck Johnson and Weev.  And Milo and Mensch and Cernovich and … thanks for yesterdays link,  Ricky Vaughn aka  Douglass Mackey, (deleted @ricky_vaughn99 )  https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/11/gop-researcher-who-sought-clinton-emails-had-alt-right-help-215359 and the doxing that would expand to anyone extraneously connected to the least pittance of Soros financing.   Check out Chuck’s man Robert Barnes words,   https://twitter.com/i/web/status/976923221621538816   “The role of #Gamergate cannot be underestimated”

            • greengiant says:

              Ricky Vaughn found at this link.  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-white-nationalist-troll-ricky-vaughn_us_5ac53167e4b09ef3b2432627


  4. cfost says:

    From a wiki-Gucci-Russe point of view, at least this episode gets us talking about them again. Free publicity. And, they get to control both the subject and the direction of the conversation, while sane people are eagerly searching for verifiable facts.

    Facts? There are people out there who have a good idea of what may or may not be in these emails. After all, they wrote them, presumably. Why are these people silent? Their silence only aids the attention-seeking hackers and leakers.

    • Trip says:

      cfost, people may not even remember email conversations from years ago, especially if they weren’t saved. And why should they release them or try to reconstruct them now?

      • cfost says:

        Mundane stuff is forgotten. The big stuff? No, they remember. IMO their silence is either to cover embarrassing stuff, or to wait until someone dumps the EMs so that they can deny by showing their saved copy of the EM, in case any are altered. In 2016 there were a couple of embarrassing things in the dump, esp re Bernie, but the real damage, as with Pizzagate or any of the hoaxes, is in the constant talking about it. Facts don’t kill, but a news conference by Comey does kill, even if it exonerates. All of this is why the GOP is still (still!) inserting references to Hillary or Obama into their talks: it has the desired effect.

        wiki-Gucci-Russe want to be an influence in the mid-terms. This is one way to do that.


        • Trip says:

          If they dumped emails now, GUARANTEED that is all anyone would talk about and Trump et al would be delighted. I don’t know how you would see anything else coming from it.

          • cfost says:

            The writer(s) of the emails could steal the leaker’s/hacker’s thunder by “getting out in front of” any dump. They could do this by previewing for the public any or all of the content of the emails. “Control the narrative” or “decide what we’re going to talk about today.” But….
            From the wiki-Gucci-Russe point of view, dumping before the primaries would be counterproductive, if their aim is to help the GOP. But…
            But first it would be wise to find out who, if anyone, is actually in possession of the DCCC emails in question. Assange-As-Wikileaks, in particular, comes across as a public relations firm in the mold of Accenture more than a movement dedicated to transparency (or whatever it is he wants us to think they think they stand for).
            This is what weaponized propaganda looks like.

            • greengiant says:

              Thinking good luck with that, each email or portion thereof is property of the sender yes? Not to mention NDAs. So even if the DNC or DCCC owned the emails then the decision would be made at the top to release. “But the content of the emails” is Trump Russian operative agitation propaganda disjoint completely from the real issues.  Theft, use of stolen items,  foreign activity of any kind in an election, moneys paid, GOP operatives participating in IRA propaganda,  someone make a list.  Heads up, people aiding or “in” the conspiracy with no knowledge of illegal activities,  Sessions for one  is 100 percent down on that being a felony.

  5. James Hester says:

    The most important thing is that DNC emails are out in “as is” form without any filters. Who provided what is a 2ndary issue. Had it not been for Wikileaks we would have not gotten the entire picture or perhaps we may have to buy a book written by some pundit later on.

    As far the Russian information not by published by Wikileaks (dont forget it would have been in Russian language, or extra cost for translation) how many of us would be interested in reading that information. Heck we dont give a damn about UK politics or Israel or any other country for that matter let alone Russia or China. No intention to defend on party (wikileaks) over others. Always information and information, factual information like faxes, emails etc would be great to have. Does not matter where it comes from.

    • Trip says:

      I don’t think you read the article clearly, quote:

      Equally important, however, is that Wikileaks never released the DCCC documents.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Two things to keep in mind:

        1. There is no proof that the alleged DCCC docs really exist

        2. Emma Best really has no way to know if the people on the other side really are trustable

        Emma Best may have been trolled.
        And then came to that conclusion.
        And then backed away from the situation.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          I think we need a fairly complicated Venn diagram for “the emails” covering the sources we know or believe were made public and the ones that others believed existed in the wild and weren’t released.

        • Trip says:

          Could be. But Wikileaks has purportedly held back hacked docs, including Republican stuff, which Assange said he didn’t find interesting enough for the public.

          “We do have some information about the Republican campaign,” he said Friday, according to The Washington Post.“I mean, it’s from a point of view of an investigative journalist organization like WikiLeaks, the problem with the Trump campaign is it’s actually hard for us to publish much more controversial material than what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth every second day,” Assange said.”I mean, that’s a very strange reality for most of the media to be in.”


          But a good amount of Clinton stuff that was released, was mundane and inconsequential, as well.

    • Dev Null says:

      @SLF: wut?!? I did not see that coming…

      … so I went back and looked at EW’s posts on Hutchins …

      … and see no connection to Mueller, but I don’t pay much attention to legal beagle names, so perhaps I missed the obvious.

      And of course you have a link connecting Mueller’s team and Hutchins. Share, SVP?

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        No, I do not have a link. That is the point.

        If there is a link, it is quiet, and the only obvious tie would be Russia. Keyword is ‘obvious’. I can think of some non-obvious ties (dealing with internal issues).

        There may not be a definite tie to Mueller SC, but then one could ask: How did the Marcus Hutchins arrest even really happen in the first place? Why and How did GCHQ know ahead of time that Marcus was going to be arrested in the US?

  6. harpie says:

    Zoe Tillman @ZoeTillman  Deputy solicitor general Michael Dreeben, a specialist in criminal appellate law who is also part of Mueller’s team, just formally entered an appearance in Manafort’s criminal case. He’s been in court, but not officially on the docket
    [quote from screenshot]: […] The following transaction was entered by Dreeben, Michael on 4/6/18 at 1:22 PM and filed on 4/6/2018  […] Notice of Attorney Appearance Michael Richard Dreeben appearing for the USA [end quote] 

    • Trip says:

      @Willis, @earl and @Rayne have said that removing the “?” and everything after it, in a link, removes tracking data. So the ?amp&_twitter  (and so forth) should be deleted. It took me a little while to get it, myself. Cleaned up link:


      Anyway, to the subject:

      Joseph Schmitz, formerly a Pentagon inspector general and then a member of the Trump campaign’s national security and foreign policy team, reportedly found the unverified material through a client, who remains an unidentified contractor. He brought it to at least two federal agencies and two congressional committees, CNN reported….When the government agencies and watchdogs declined to review the material after interviewing Schmitz, the campaign official then listed his concerns in a memo he provided to the House Intelligence Committee, a congressional panel simultaneously probing Russia’s interference in the election.

      He was really pushing this thing. More so than Steele did, or so it seems. But this is the first we’re hearing of it. I wonder who the “contractor” was. Smith, maybe? So many possibilities.

      • harpie says:

        Really interesting article about Schmitz from 2016:
        Jeff Stein@SpyTalker  13h13 hours ago 

        [Jeff Stein Retweeted Laura Rozen] Oh, Joseph Schmitz. What a case. I wrote about him two years ago. / Joseph #Schmitz left his troubled term as DoD IG to take ‘a job with the #Prince Group, the parent company of Blackwater USA,’ I wrote in March 2016, when he became a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.


        • Trip says:

          Erik Prince and Big Data
          Prince and Disinformation
          In the past Prince accused Huma Abedin of being a terrorist in the employ of the Muslim Brotherhood and claimed he had insider knowledge of why former FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation into the issue of Clinton’s email server just 11 days before the 2016 election. As this 2017 article notes, Prince “went public as part of a calculated propaganda campaign in a November 4 Breitbart News interview, making a host of wild and demonstrably false allegations in connection with the Weiner/Clinton revelations.”
          Prince tells Breitbart that he has learned what is in the newly discovered emails from well-placed sources in the NYPD, and claims that it includes evidence of “money laundering” and of a Clinton “sex island” with “under-age sex slaves” that is “so disgusting…”

          So do we think “PATRIOT” is Prince? Were they manufacturing emails and documents and trying to funnel them to Russian sources, to make them seem legit? Or no Russians involved at all, on that end?

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        “When the government agencies and watchdogs declined to review the material after interviewing Schmitz”

        One reason to decline is because they were already familiar with the ‘stuff’.

        Think about it.

        • Dev Null says:

          Another possible reason to decline is because Schmitz is a known quantity. Seems that his tenure as DoD IG was rocky. From the Newsweek link provided by Harpie:

          In May 2006, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a nonpartisan watchdog in Washington, D.C., noted that Schmitz “resigned under a cloud of allegations that he had allowed inappropriate political interference in a Boeing tanker lease investigation by the White House, as well as other politically sensitive investigations.”

          Amusingly, he is offsprung from John G. Schmitz, about whom Wiki writes:

          Schmitz was notable for his extreme right-wing sympathies. By one measure, he was found to be the third most conservative member of Congress between 1937 and 2002,[1] and the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, of which Schmitz was a longtime leader, later expelled him for extremist rhetoric.

          Even more amusingly, Mary Kay Letourneau is Joseph Schmitz’s sister.

          Having thought about it, I think that alternative explanations (relative to yours) might be possible. But hey, Deep State and all that…

            • Dev Null says:

              The dark web is sometimes associated with pedophilia, or so I read. Schmitz’s information allegedly came from the Dark Web.

              Amusing indeed.

              Wiki’s entry for John G. Schmitz is an entertaining read. One might infer that he was an utterly loathsome individual, and not merely because he was expelled from the John Birch Society for extremist views. (When you’re too extreme for the Birchers etc)

              Not necessarily directly relevant to Joseph Schmitz’ grounded-ness and credibility, but … apples and trees and L2 metrics.

  7. SpaceLifeForm says:

    So many fronts, so few names.

    Black Cube, CubeYou


    When CNBC showed Facebook the quizzes and terms, which are similar to the methods used by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook said it was going to suspend CubeYou from the platform to investigate.


    Wylie claimed that Cambridge Analytica hired Black Cube to hack Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.

    “Black Cube on the Nigeria project was engaged to hack the now-president Buhari to get access to his medical records and private emails,” said Wylie before a committee of British MPs.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        So SCL has defense operations?
        And defense is psyops?


        Commander Dr Steve Tatham RN, who headed SCL’s defence arm, has now completely disassociated himself from that company.

        Tatham, who has extensive links to academia and the wider defence community, specialises in strategic communications. Through his company Influence Options, Tatham has issued an updated statement on the activities of CA and SCL:

        We have previously worked, as contractors, for the defence division of SCL, as indeed we have with many other organisations. The defence division works on defence related projects only.

        We are utterly appalled at the actions of senior Cambridge Analytica staff revealed by Channel 4 news and the subsequent evidence provided by Christopher Wylie to the Commons’ Select Committee. These are not our values and standards and we condemn them unreservedly. We have now withdrawn from all work with SCL.

        SCL Defence, guided by Tatham, engaged in major work for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and NATO over many years.

        In 2005, Strategic Communications Laboratories Ltd, as SCL was then known, launched a ‘psyops’, or psychological operations service. As former head of 15 psyops for British forces in Afghanistan, Tatham was the logical choice to promote this service.

  8. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Legal Money Laundering


    The network laid out in the infographic fulfills all of the requirements for Dark Money Magic. First, if you calculate all of the money coming into the networked groups from the beaker at the top, there is in fact only $10 million. Second, if you look at each group individually, you would see that they are all spending the entirety of the funds they received, but never devoting more than half of their spending to clearly political activity. Third, you will see that the money going into the beaker at the bottom does indeed add up to $10 million, despite the fact that if you add up the total spending for Groups A through D, and include just the $2.75 million in political spending for Group E, you see that the net spending for all of the network’s activities is $20.3 million, more than double the amount of money put into the network in the first place.





  9. SpaceLifeForm says:

    P0TUS not seeing the different angles of investigations.


    President Donald Trump on Monday responded to the FBI raids on his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel room, calling the raids “disgraceful.”

    “‘He should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have put a different attorney general in,” Trump said of Sessions. “So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.”

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