Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) revealed Thursday that hackers within Russia targeted his presidential campaign staffers last year, and as recently as Wednesday morning.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election, Rubio, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination, said he felt it was appropriate to divulge the information to the committee.
"In July of 2016, shortly after I announced that I would seek reelection to the United States Senate, former members of my presidential campaign team, who had access to the internal information of my presidential campaign, were targeted by IP addresses with an unknown location within Russia," he said. "That effort was unsuccessful.
"I'd also inform the committee that within the last 24 hours, at 10:45 a.m. yesterday, a second attempt was made, again against former members of my presidential campaign team, who had access to our internal information, again targeted from an IP address from an unknown location in Russia," Rubio continued. "And that effort was also unsuccessful."
Rubio's comments marked the first public confirmation that Russian hackers targeted anyone beyond the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Washington Post noted.
Earlier on Thursday, national security expert Clinton Watts testified that a "Russian-influenced system" began in 2015 to push stories through trolling operations and websites to target opponents "on both sides of the political spectrum with adverse views towards the Kremlin."
One of the targets, he said, was Rubio.
"They were in full swing during both the Republican and Democratic primary season, and may have helped sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to Russian interests long before the field narrowed," he said. "Senator Rubio, in my opinion, you anecdotally suffered from these efforts."
Rubio was considered a top contender for the Republican nomination, and he and Trump traded strong attacks in the heat of the primary season. However, Rubio suspended his presidential campaign last March after winning just one primary.
After initially saying he would not seek reelection to the Senate, he reversed course and ultimately defeated Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Fla.) in November.