On the eve of the July 25 opening of the four-day Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the Democratic Party was busy reacting to information from party emails leaked to the public.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign manager suggested that he believes "Russian state actors" may have been involved in the leak of party emails in order to help her Republican rival, Donald Trump, who has said he would seek to improve ties with Moscow if elected.
Robby Mook told CNN in an interview broadcast July 24 that he does not "think it's coincidental" that the emails were released "on the eve" of the Democratic National Convention that kicks off in Philadelphia on July 25.
The trove of more than 19,000 hacked emails published by Wikileaks show Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffers favoring Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders during the primaries, angering more progressive factions of the party.
Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced later on July 24 she was resigning following the revelation the DNC had not given the candidates a level playing field.
One leaked email showed a committee official deliberating about whether Sanders may be an atheist and whether this could be leveraged against him.
Wasserman Schultz said she would step down as DNC chairwoman "at the end of this convention."
During the CNN interview, campaign manager Mook said, "There's evidence Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole those emails, and there are experts saying they are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”.
The Virginia-based cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike Inc. said last month that the DNC asked it to investigate a suspected penetration of its systems that began as early as last summer. Crowdstrike said it found evidence that two hacking groups tied to the Russian state were involved.
The Trump campaign rejected Mook's suggestion of Russian involvement on behalf of the Republican candidate, who has said he would seek rapprochement with the Kremlin if elected to the White House.
Ties between the two countries have plunged to Cold War-level lows following Moscow's forcible annexation of Ukraine's Crimea territory in 2014 and its backing for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Trump's campaign called Mook's assertion "a joke."
"This shows that Hillary Clinton will do and say anything to win the election and hold onto power in the rigged system," Jason Miller, a senior communications adviser for Trump, told the newspaper in the statement.
With reporting by CNN, AP, AFP, Reuters, Time.com, and The Washington Post