Lawmaker says he misspoke about Republican Party hack

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, questions TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger about long lines at airport security checkpoints during a hearing in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Wednesday that Russians had hacked into Republican National Committee computers, but the RNC denied it and McCaul later told CNN he misspoke.

“The Russians ... basically have hacked into both parties at the national level. And that gives us all concern about what their motivations are,” McCaul told CNN in an interview.

The Republican National Committee’s communications director, Sean Spicer, quickly pushed back on McCaul’s comments, saying on Twitter that “there has been no known” breach of Republican networks.

Shortly thereafter, posted a statement from McCaul clarifying his remarks.

“I misspoke by asserting that the RNC was hacked. What I had intended to say was that in addition to the DNC hack, Republican political operatives have also been hacked,” said McCaul, a U.S representative from Texas.

Reuters reported last month that hackers had targeted the computer systems of Republican Party organizations and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The head of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, said on Tuesday the organization had been hacked by Russian state-sponsored agents who were trying to influence the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as DNC chair on the eve of July’s Democratic National Convention after WikiLeaks published a trove of hacked DNC emails that showed party officials favoring eventual nominee Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders during the party’s nominating contests.

Reporting by Eric Beech and David Alexander; Editing by Peter Cooney