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Photo: Epoxydude via Getty Images

Although the news (via Politico) that the National Republican Congressional Committee was hacked during this year's midterm election may immediately summon flashbacks to the 2016 attack on Democratic targets, we still have far too little information to know whether there are any substantial parallels.

Why it matters: We don't know who, why or how, or what attackers were even trying to accomplish with the theft. But after 2016, we do know that hacking political parties spreads distrust in many directions.

What we know: In April, an NRCC vendor discovered that the email accounts of four senior aides with "active accounts" were compromised per the original story.

  • The NRCC opted not to alert the public or several key members of Congress about the breach, which they say they hoped would allow them to further track the hacker or hackers.
  • The NRCC was, however, aware of the stir hacked emails could cause, and hired lawyers (Covington and Burling) and the political strategy firm Mercury Public Affairs to cover the breach.
  • The NRCC is cooperating with authorities and does not believe donor information has been compromised.

What we don't know: We don't know who did it. Party officials (not cybersecurity experts) told Politico they believed it was likely a nation spearheading the hack, but only because they were the target.

  • We don't know exactly who was targeted, although the fact that none of the four accounts contained donor information may limit the potential victims.
  • We don't know how the attackers got into the system, though these attacks are frequently perpetrated by phishing.

We don't know how it relates to the Democrats whose emails were stolen in 2016 and leaked on WikiLeaks with other documents leaked through the Guccifer 2.0 persona.

  • And we don't know if there was any connection to the Republicans whose emails were hacked in 2016 by the same actor and spread on the site DCLeaks.

But we do know that most cyber espionage isn't intended for leaks. Typically it's more mundane, gathering knowledge of political and economic developments to adjust negotiating tactics and other decisions.

Go deeper

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McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

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Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.