MISSOURI — Russian hackers have picked their first target of the 2018 midterms: Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. First reported by The Daily Beast, the senator confirmed Thursday her office had been targeted by a sophisticated phishing attempt, similar to the one used against Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in the lead up to the 2016 election. Hackers essentially built a working replica of the Senate’s directory long-on page in order to steal users’ passwords, but were ultimately thwarted by Microsoft.

McCaskill, who has been a leading critic of Russia, said in a statement: “Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy. I will continue to speak out and press to hold them accountable. While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.”

McCaskill is expected to have a tough reelection ahead of her in 2018, and hanging on to her seat will be key to Democratic hopes of retaking the Senate.

President Trump has repeatedly attacked the senator on Twitter and called her out multiple times at campaign rallies across the state, encouraging Missouri voters to kick her out of office.

The president said on Twitter earlier this week that he believes Russia will interfere in the upcoming midterm elections, but that they may help Democrats. He offered no evidence for that claim.

U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of sewing chaos, helping Trump and hurting Democrats. At a press conference in Helsinki two weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted he had wanted Trump to win, “because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russian relationship back to normal.”

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