Distinctive recounts the fall of 2016 and the affect the drunk-with-power Exclusivor had on the Clinton v Trump election.
Hey, where’ve you been?
L: Sorry I haven’t called lately. Been sick. Do you have a sec?
L: I’m ready to talk about – Oh, come on! Alright, I’ll call you back.
L: (upset) Why did you even answer if you were on the toilet?
I didn’t want to miss you. You haven’t been answering your phone or DMs.
L: I was sick!
I didn’t know. I thought you were ghosting me.
L: (nicer) No, I wouldn’t do that. You’re helping me, remember? I was just calling about your message. You said you were `seeing parallels’.
L: What does that mean?
It means I think Exclusivor is messing with US politics again. I see parallels right now, to 2016.
L: I don’t follow.
Alright, so, back in September 2016 we’re in Kiev. We were celebrating, all of us. Exclusivor, Bitslapt, QueueCueQ, PrairieFire, MassTroll, 808, me and a few others. Lots of fine Russian vodka. We’d just sent Sindictive underground - Oh, Sam Fishburne was there, too.
I think the last time we’d partied with Sam. Cause, things kind of went to hell right after this.
Everyone had way too much to drink and Exclusivor was like, “I bet I can still get Bernie elected.” Bernie Sanders, right? Six weeks before the 2016 election. He’s not even on the ballot. Exclusivor pops off like this when she’s drunk. Does it all the time.
But this one really steamed Fishburne. He’d come up under Hillary in the state department in the early Obama years and was looking forward to getting ahead when she was elected. He and Exclusivor got into an argument. Fishburne shoved Exclusivor, she slapped him, there was this scuffle. We had to break them up.
The thing is, Fishburne knew what we all knew: Exclusivor could do it. Even with a mere month and a half to go. She could get Bernie elected.
But Exclusivor was hammered, so there was also the possibility that by morning she wouldn’t even remember.
The next morning, she did remember. I think it was that shove from Fishburne that did it. Exclusivor doesn’t forget things like that.
For the next week, every time I saw her, Exclusivor was on her computer, wired in, head down. That’s not unusual, she’s a hacker, but after all we’d gone through the previous few months, the rest of us were sleeping, eating, watching movies, relaxing.
We flew back to the US, the FBI put us up at the Watergate Hotel and we go in to the J Edgar Hoover building every day for a month to be debriefed about the whole Sindictive operation. The FBI was trying to understand how we were so effective in stopping him.
The Watergate was great. My flat is only a mile away, but I’m staying at the hotel. Food, drinks, spa, maid service. Plus, everyone is there. It was a party. Loving it.
Exclusivor comes up to me the third night and says, “Hey, we need to stay at your place.” I was like, “No way. As long as the government is paying this tab, I’m staying here.” She said, “I need clean WiFi, I can’t work here. They’re watching me.”
I was like, “take the night off. Let’s go to a movie.” But she was insistent. She said, “just give me your key and security code.” But I was like, No Way I’m letting her have free roam in my house while I’m not there, and No Way am I saying no to Exclusivor. You just don’t do that.
So I left the party palace at the Watergate and moved back in to my boring little flat. I wanted to cry.
Next day, we’re on break at the FBI, I went down to the courtyard and Exclusivor’s sitting by the fountain, head down, wired-in. She suddenly looks up, sees me and motions me over.
She said, “Hey, you any good with audio editing?” I actually was, so I said yes. She had downloaded this open source digital audio editor called Audacity, and she was messing with this audio of Trump. Rearranging his recorded words to say other stuff. She played some of it for me. It was mostly pretty dumb.
L: Wait, I’ve heard these.
L: Yeah, there are a bunch of these on that little red external drive you sent me, the one with the black stripe. Exclusivor made those?
She did. Play a couple for me. Just put your phone up close to the speaker.
(Playing them, laughing). Crazy, right? That day by the fountain, she played some and we laughed. They were so bad. The quality sucks. Some were from speeches with cheering in the background, some were from quiet conversations, and from his reality TV show days. They don’t match up.
L: This is like the audio version of bad Photoshopping.
Exactly. Exclusivor was frustrated so I gave her a couple of editing tips. For a few days, I saw her with Audacity pulled up, and then, nothing. It appeared she’d given up.
The next day, we didn’t have meetings at the FBI until the afternoon, so I went to my day job in the morning. I’d hardly been in for months. The young people I work with all adored Bernie. And, they were abuzz again, like they had been in the Spring and early Summer.
I was like, “What’s going on?” And they told me Sanders had been sighted shaking hands here, talking to his campaign manager there. I’m like, damn, Bernie is ramping back up.
In the meantime, Exclusivor is staying at my place, I’m having to cook her dinner. She’s doing all this hacking using my WiFi and I’m getting worried they’re going to trace this back and think I’m doing it, whatever she’s doing.
Then. Early October, boom.
The Trump Pussygate video surfaces and I realize that she’s edited the audio from a bunch of sources. Two days later, Wikileaks publishes 20,000 Podesta emails including the transcripts for Clinton’s closed door Wall Street speeches, and also, where the Democrats are shit-talking Catholics.
An Exclusivor one-two punch.
L: Holy crap. So, her plan was to take down both Trump and Clinton. Jeez. But Sanders wouldn’t be on the ballot, would he?
I guess he’d have to be a write-in, which would be chaos.
L: Can you imagine hand-counting a hundred million write-in ballots?
So, Clinton’s lead plummets. Both she and Trump are in the crosshairs of media and social media. Exclusivor was in high spirits. She sent a text to Fishburne that said, “Suck it!”
By now, she was wired-in almost all the time. Every time I saw her, everywhere I saw her. Head down, earbuds in, on her laptop.
Then, in late October, maybe a week and a half before Election Day, I saw Exclusivor at lunch at the FBI offices. She’s seated with James Comey. (L: Gasp) The director of the FB-fucking-I.
L: No way.
Just the two of them.
L: Oh, I just got the chills.
Because of what we’d done in California, then in Europe, and how we stopped Avanta and Sindictive, we were known and liked at the FBI. They were studying us. Maybe Comey was just having lunch with a rising star. Maybe they were trying to recruit Exclusivor to the Cybercrimes division.
But then, the day after that lunch,
L: The letter to Congress.
Comey writes a letter to Congress: Announcing he was reopening the Clinton Email Server investigation.
When that news broke, I got a message from Exclusivor. Seven syllables. “I told you I could do it.” Later I found out she texted that same message to everyone else who was there that night in Kiev, except Fishburne. To Fishburne sent a link to this video clip: (“how do you like them apples?”)
Fishburne replied, “Fuck you.” She screencapped it, printed it at CVS, framed it and put it on my living room wall. It’s still there.
L: Oh, my God.
She celebrated by chain-smoking on my balcony all evening. She was loving it, absorbed in power, convinced she could alter history. But… by this point, Exclusivor is also frazzled. She hasn’t slept for days, maybe weeks. She’s been laser focused on getting Bernie back in the race. Before that, it was all about exonerating her brother. Exclusivor looks like a ghost.
L: And here is where it all unravels.
Yeah, women come out and defend Trump, saying things like, “That’s just how men talk.” Comey quickly concludes the email investigation. Sanders goes out on the road to campaign, he campaigns hard, but does it for Clinton, not against her.
L: The nail in the coffin. Exclusivor loses.
It backfired. Exclusivor took down Clinton. But instead of handing the Presidency to Sanders, she presented it to Trump.
Fishburne was livid.
L: You know, the irony is, Trump is probably Exclusivor’s biggest critic. Did you see what he tweeted about Exclusivor this morning?
No, no. No, I don’t go on Twitter anymore.
L: Don’t you think Trump could have won anyway?
No, I don’t. I think Exclusivor did it. I think this was Clinton’s election, until that night in Kiev with all that Vodka. Exclusivor was drunk with power.
L: Given what she’s been doing since then, I’d say that’s a bad sign.
It’s a very bad sign.