News From 4 Years Ago: Russian Hacking, 'Access Hollywood,' John Podesta's Emails Four years ago, the U.S. government accused Russia of hacking Democratic National Committee emails, the Access Hollywood tape surfaced and WikiLeaks released some of John Podesta's emails.

News From 4 Years Ago: Russian Hacking, 'Access Hollywood,' John Podesta's Emails

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Four years ago today, I thought I had the day off work. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was at my son's soccer practice, happily watching from the sidelines when boom - news hit.


SCOTT HORSLEY: A joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence says the hacking attacks bear the earmarks of earlier Russian attacks and must have been OK'd by the very top levels of the Russian government.


For the first time, the U.S. government was publicly accusing Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee. And the top brass of U.S. intelligence agencies were calling out Vladimir Putin. It's what we sometimes call a Friday news dump.

KELLY: And then an hour later, more news.


KELLY MCEVERS: Late this afternoon, The Washington Post released a 2005 recording of Donald Trump...

KELLY: Yep - that recording.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful - I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss.

BILLY BUSH: (Laughter).

TRUMP: I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

CHANG: You remember that - the "Access Hollywood" tape, a three-minute clip of Trump from 2005 on an open mic, lewdly talking with television host Billy Bush. In the video, Trump brags about sexually assaulting women.

KELLY: Now, that video, plus the Russia salvo - those two would already have made for a massive news day. But there was more - at 4:32 p.m., a tweet that read, release the Podesta emails.

CHANG: The anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks dropped thousands of emails from the personal account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. Oct. 7, 2016 was, like today, a month out from a general election. And that Friday four years ago sent reporters, campaigns and voters spinning.


VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Absolutely false to suggest that at any point in time we considered dropping off this ticket. It's the greatest honor of my life.


ELIANA JOHNSON: It is absolutely catastrophic for his campaign, which has already issued a statement. And...


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: If one thinks, as many do, that the WikiLeaks against Democrats come through the Russians...


TOM BOWMAN: Some fear there could be a new cold war as a result of all this.

KELLY: One thing about all these stories that broke Oct. 7th, 2016 - they remain relevant, says Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan. They didn't vanish like so many news stories do.

MARGARET SULLIVAN: We think about them differently. We think about the "Access Hollywood" tape differently because so many other women came forward with their accusations, some of which were very credible. We think about the WikiLeaks dump differently because of the way we know that more context should be brought to it.

CHANG: That news tsunami may have been good prep work for the Trump presidency.

KELLY: A presidency that has brought no shortage of Friday news dumps or stories about Russian interference in U.S. democracy or videos of Donald Trump saying jaw-dropping things - a reminder that chaos has been a constant in recent American politics and that on October 7, just weeks before an election, truly anything can happen.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.