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Exclusive: The Illinois Republican who catfished Guccifer 2.0

Putin seen through the Twitter Logo
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen through a Twitter logo in this photo illustration. (Photo: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In August 2016, John Bambenek, a former Republican state senate candidate in Illinois, launched his own clandestine investigation of Guccifer 2.0, the public face of the Russian cyber break-in at the Democratic National Committee. What Bambenek found was that the Guccifer 2.0 persona — believed to be a cover for Russia's military intelligence arm — reflected a more slapdash chapter in the operation to sow U.S. election chaos than usually presented.

Why it matters: In transcripts of Twitter messages that Bambenek shared with Axios, Guccifer 2.0 seemed to be either careless or indiscriminate, apparently failing to do even a cursory check on Bambenek, and with only a vague understanding of what he was sharing.