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NRCC chief faults Dems for breakdown in talks over hacked information
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) said that he backed out of a pact that would have barred both Republicans and Democrats from using hacked information on the campaign trail after Democrats sought out media attention to gain "leverage."
Stivers said that the NRCC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had largely been on the same page on the terms of such an agreement. But it was Democrats' willingness to speak to the press that thwarted the talks.
"It wasn't about the language. We were this close on the language," Stivers said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Friday.
"It was about ... trying to use the press for leverage on timing and other stuff, which I just felt like was a breach of what we agreed to at the beginning; to not play this out in the press."
The NRCC and DCCC had spent months working on a plan to govern how the committees use hacked or stolen information on the campaign trail.
But those negotiations broke down Thursday, with Republicans arguing that Democrats had broken an agreement not to speak to the media about the pact.
Democrats, on the other hand, argued that Republicans had negotiated in bad faith and were simply looking for a reason to back out of the talks.
The Republicans' decision to back out of the negotiations came two days after DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) told The Wall Street Journal that he was hopeful that the terms of a final agreement with the NRCC would be announced this week.
Stivers said Friday that the NRCC had no interest in using hacked or stolen material in campaigns - an assertion that Luján has also made.
"We were really clear we are not seeking or hacked material," Stivers said. "We do not want stolen or hacked material. We have no intention of using stolen or hacked material."
Luján also released the text of a pledge vowing not to use or seek out stolen or hacked material.
The pledge, which bears Luján's signature only, also promises that the DCCC "will not participate, aide, or encourage hackers or foreign actors in any attempt to influence American elections."
"We have negotiated with the NRCC in good faith in an effort to release this pledge jointly, but the time for delays and excuses has run out," he said in a statement. "This commitment is important to our democracy, I'm proud to sign it, and it is my hope that the NRCC will ultimately change course and commit to this same pledge."
Updated at 11:16 a.m.