The latest development in the ongoing US presidential race has emerged as the Washington Post is reporting that a top cybersecurity official was fired after it was revealed that he was behind a hack that exposed millions of emails from the Republican National Committee (RNC).
“The breach is a serious breach of national security and underscores the importance of maintaining trust in the systems that hold information of this kind,” a source close to the RNC told the Post, which broke the news.
The source said the staffer had been suspended and no further details had been released.
In a statement posted to its website, the RNC said: “We’re grateful for the work of our security team to prevent this breach from occurring and are taking steps to ensure that any breach that is discovered does not have the capability to compromise the data of the RNC or any RNC member.”
“The RNC takes security very seriously and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement to protect our systems and our members,” it added.
The revelation comes as it emerged that Donald Trump has been the victim of an unprecedented hack in which the Russian government is alleged to have breached more than 10 million emails, including some belonging to the Republican party.
“It’s the worst hack in history, and it’s a direct attack on our election,” Republican senator Jeff Flake told Fox News.
Mr Trump, who was in charge of the Republican Party at the time, was criticised by many Democrats for his handling of the hack and the party’s reaction.
A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, which is not affiliated with the RNC, said:”The DNC was not involved in the DNC breach, and we are grateful to the FBI for taking swift action against Russian hackers who broke into the DNC and stole documents from the DNC.”
“We are focused on taking the necessary steps to protect the integrity of the election process.”
Mr Trump has also been criticised for not taking a stronger stance against Russia following the alleged hack.
“I have spoken to the president.
I spoke to the CIA director.
The DNC is working very hard to get back to normal,” he said on ABC’s Good Morning America.
The latest revelations follow a series of other breaches at the Republican and Democratic party, which have raised questions over how the two parties’ networks are managed.
Earlier this week, US intelligence officials warned that Russia may be behind the breach of the Democratic party.
The White House said it was concerned that Russian intelligence services had gained access to the emails of the DNC.
The US cybersecurity community has long said the Russian state is behind the hacks of Democratic political organisations.
In June, it emerged Russian intelligence had hacked the DNC emails and released them on the internet, which prompted Democrats to launch a public relations campaign aimed at denigrating the intelligence agencies.
But Mr Trump and the Republican establishment are pushing back on the suggestion that the hacking was an attempt to influence the election.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: “There are no questions that the Russians did it.
We don’t know who they are.””
It doesn’t matter if it’s Russian or foreign, the goal is to steal this election.”
However, Mr Trump dismissed the claims.
“The Russians hack the DNC,” he tweeted.
“It was an act of war.
It was not just about the email.”
He added: “The election will be re-run, as the Democrats want us to believe.
The election will still be rigged!”
On Friday, the DNC said it had begun to investigate a hack of its servers and had no evidence of the intrusion being connected to Russia.
“This is a hacking attack by an outside actor targeting the Democratic Party of the United States,” a statement from the party said.
“This attack has no apparent links to Russia, and was launched by a third-party cyber actor, CrowdStrike.”