OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - A federal grand jury returned an indictment against a dozen Russian intelligence officers for targeting the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign in a hacking scheme to undermine the 2016 election.
Prosecutors say they released tens of thousands of stolen and politically damaging communications, but there is no allegation this changed the outcome or altered the vote.
On Friday, former Congressman Brad Ashford revealed he was one of the Democrats whose campaign email account was hacked. He said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi informed him of the hack but in July 2016 during his re-election campaign. He said he thought bringing up the hacking then would be a distraction to his campaign.
"I made the decision that we weren't going to bring it up during the election because it would be distracting. And I made the decision after the election to not bring it up because I had to have some independent agency tell me who these people were who did it," said Ashford during a phone call interview.
Ashford said he doesn't know what information from his emails was used or how, but doesn't believe it affected local results.
"I wanted to make sure this was in fact that the Russians. "I didn't want to stoop down that low and sound sour grapes over it after the election," added Ashford.
Ashford said he's voiced concerns over Russia for years.
"I always said when I was in Congress that Russia is our biggest enemy. These people are not nice people. They are not our friends. They're not even friendly competitors. They're our enemies. They decided to pick on Democrats because the Democrats were weakened by the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton thing, and then the email server thing. So they saw Trump, someone they could trust, and the rest is history," said Ashford.
Ashford considers the upcoming meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin a mistake and believes it should be canceled, unless Trump is willing to publicly confront Putin on the election meddling.
"I think it's deadly serious. I think it isn't Republican Democrat, I think our country's sovereignty and freedoms are at stake. and out president needs to stand up to the Russians. And if he doesn't, it weakens us, especially with our allies," said Ashford.
In response to the indictment, Congress Don Bacon released a statement to 3 News Now: "I am glad the investigation has provided more clarity on Russia's involvement in the email hacking. We know Russia was using information warfare by posting propaganda in social media and hacking emails. We also know they were probing our voting infrastructure, but there's no evidence that any data was manipulated."
He continued, "I am working with Homeland Security to better protect our election systems, but our emails remain vulnerable and we need better rules to guard social media from foreign manipulation. We have sanctioned over a hundred Russian entities, and closed some Russian consulates. We are helping Ukraine defend itself and have taken a firm red line in Syria. This administration has been much clearer against Russia in its actions...though at times message discipline has lacked."
On Ashford's hacking he said, "It certainly brings this situation much closer to home knowing former Congressman Ashford’s emails were hacked as part of a large pool of emails that were downloaded. Any Congressman or candidate that emailed the Democratic party in Washington was targeted and would have had those emails compromised."
Ashford says he expects to get more information on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election after more indictments. "There's definitely another batch of indictments coming after this."