NRCC hacked in 2018 by ‘unknown entity’

WASHINGTON — The National Republican Congressional Committee was hacked in 2018 by an “unknown entity,” a committee spokesman acknowledged Tuesday.

“The NRCC can confirm that it was the victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity,” spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement. “The cybersecurity of the committee’s data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter.”

Prior, who works for Mercury Public Affairs, said the NRCC will not be commenting further on the incident. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The breach was first reported by Politico on Tuesday, citing committee officials who said hackers had access to email accounts of four “senior aides” and surveilled the accounts for several months.

The committee’s Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was implicated in a hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, perpetrated by Russian hackers. The DCCC hack led to internal emails and opposition research leaking to the public. According to Politico, none of the NRCC emails accessed this year have been made public.

The 2016 hack caused political committees and operatives on both sides to re-evaluate information security practices. NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt told Roll Call last year that cybersecurity is “an absolute priority” and the committee had hired a full-time cybersecurity team.

— CQ-Roll Call

Rand Paul’s neighbor gives deposition in civil suit: ‘I lost it’

WASHINGTON — In a five-hour deposition Monday, Sen. Rand Paul’s neighbor described his thinking on the day he tackled the congressman in November of last year over what he says was a dispute over yard waste.

“When I saw him once again, he was off of his mower, taking branches from that one pile and putting them on the property line to intentionally aggravate me. I lost it and became irate,” Rene Boucher said.

Boucher then charged toward Paul and knocked him to the ground, leaving him with six broken ribs and an injured lung.

In a Bowling Green courtroom, Boucher testified that the brush pile he “conservatively” estimated to measure 10 feet long and 5 feet high became a source of intense aggravation, WBKO reported.

Boucher has previously claimed that Paul continually dropped a mound of branches near the line separating their property. Boucher once trespassed in order to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire.

Boucher said he had never discussed the brush pile with his neighbor, but in his deposition, he alleged Paul would avoid personal discussions with him.

Boucher had also spoken to two members of the Rivergreen Home Owners Association about the eyesore before the date of the attack, he testified. But he also acknowledged that he never filed a complaint with the Home Owners Association, WBKO reported.

A spokesman for the senator told the Washington Examiner in the hours after the assault that it was “shocking that a next-door neighbor of many years who has not so much as exchanged an email or spoken word with Rand in several years, would race downhill and pummel Rand from behind.”

Boucher testified in a civil suit brought by Paul for compensatory and punitive damages alleging he has an “increased likelihood of, and susceptibility to, injury and disease and … he has been deprived of his enjoyment of life” as a result of Boucher’s attack.

— CQ-Roll Call

Anthrax responsible for 22 hippo deaths in Malawi, officials say

BLANTYRE, Malawi — Twenty-two hippopotamuses have died from anthrax disease at Liwonde National Park in Malawi over the past two months, a wildlife official said on Tuesday.

Laboratory tests conducted by the Health Ministry showed that the animals had been infected with the highly infectious, spore-forming bacterial disease, Brighton Kumchedwa, director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, told dpa.

A few weeks ago, wildlife officials had assumed that the deaths were caused by climate change after they found the hippos floating in the Shire River in September and October.

The river had unusually low water levels.

Liwonde National Park is one of the impoverished Southern African county’s top tourism destinations. There are an estimated 3,000 hippos in Malawi.

— dpa