Impersonator contacted Dem senator seeking information about Russia sanctions

Impersonator contacted Dem senator seeking information about Russia sanctions
© Greg Nash

An individual claiming to work for the Latvian Foreign Ministry contacted Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenLawmakers express horror at latest Capitol attack Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure MORE (D-N.H.) last year in an effort to obtain information on U.S. sanctions on Russia, The Daily Beast reported Monday.

The news outlet obtained emails and audio that revealed a man reached out to Shaheen saying he wanted to discuss the “prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions.” Shaheen has backed rigid sanctions on Russia, and has consistently spoken out against Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.

The Daily Beast reported that the man identified himself as Arturs Vaiders, and contacted Shaheen’s office purportedly to arrange a phone call between the senator and Edgars Rinkevičs, the foreign minister of Latvia.


Before the phone call took place, Shaheen’s office contacted the Latvian embassy and learned that the outreach effort was inauthentic, The Daily Beast reported. While the meeting never occurred, the impersonator made a follow-up phone call and sent another email.

Shaheen seemed to refer to the incident during an appearance on Sunday's "Face the Nation." She warned of "widespread" phishing attacks against political offices, and revealed that her office had already notified authorities of one suspicious experience.

"We've had an experience in our office with people getting phishing emails with social media- accounts," Shaheen said. "There has been one situation that we have turned over to authorities to look into.

"So this is a very big issue and it's something that we need to address in a bipartisan way," she continued. "It affects both Republicans and Democrats. It's about the security of our political process and our government functions and we need to work together to address it."

The report that Shaheen dealt with a phishing scam comes less than a week after The Daily Beast first reported that Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE's (D-Mo.) Senate computer system had been unsuccessfully targeted by Russian hackers.

McCaskill is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in the Senate. Shaheen is not up for reelection this year.

Lawmakers have warned of Russian efforts to interfere in this year's elections. Some lawmakers have proposed legislation that would slap Russia with additional sanctions if the country is found to have interfered in the 2018 elections, or any future votes.

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE has attracted widespread criticism for his handling of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, where Trump cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

He later expressed confidence in his intelligence officials, but muddled the walkback by saying it "could be others."

Trump also appeared to tell reporters "no" when asked if he believes Russia is still a threat, but the White House later claimed he was saying "no" to taking additional questions.

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsIntel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows How President Biden can hit a home run MORE and other officials have been adamant that Russia continues to pose a threat to U.S. election systems.