Report: China hacked Obama, McCain campaigns in 2008

U.S. officials have determined that the Chinese government hacked into and spied on the 2008 presidential campaigns of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight Iran's president warns US will pay 'high cost' if Trump ditches nuclear deal MORE and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE, according to NBC News.

The revelation comes as President Obama is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California. The White House has previously said Obama plans to press Xi over China's hacking of U.S. companies and government agencies.

Officials told NBC News that the goal of the 2008 hacking appeared to be to gain access to internal position papers and emails of top advisers.  

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In one case, the hackers obtained a private email between McCain and the newly-elected president of Taiwan, according to NBC News.

“They were looking for positions on China, surprises that might be rolled out by campaigns against China,” Dennis Blair, Obama’s director of national intelligence in 2009 and 2010, told NBC.

The spying went undetected for several months before the FBI became involved and helped the campaigns better secure their computer networks, campaign officials said.

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, told NBC that Josh Bolton, then-President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, called him in August 2008 to alert him of the spying.

The hackers apparently sent "phishing" emails to top aides with an attachment claiming to be an agenda for an upcoming meeting. But the attachment was actually a sophisticated virus that spread through the campaigns' networks, quietly spying on their activity. 

The Chinese government has denied that it is responsible for cyberattacks.