Documents show Sanders staffers breached Clinton voter data

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Bernie Sanders Campaign Accused of Hillary Clinton Data Breach

After Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign was disciplined by the Democratic National Committee for improperly accessing the Hillary Clinton campaign's proprietary voter database, documents obtained and reviewed by NBC News appeared to show that at least four individuals affiliated with the Sanders campaign conducted searches and saved the Clinton campaign's lists of potential voters over a period of more than 40 minutes.

NBC News has not independently verified the documents in this unfolding story, but the records appear to shed new light on the depth of the data breach.

READ MORE: Sanders campaign fires data director after breach of Clinton files

The DNC has revoked the Sanders' campaigns credentials to access the data until an investigation has been conducted.

The Sanders campaign responded Friday by calling the staffers' actions "inappropriate" but threatening to sue the DNC for what it calls "a heavy-handed attempt to undermine our campaign."

"Rather incredibly, the leadership of the DNC has used this incident to shut down our ability to access our own information, information which is the lifeblood of this campaign," said Sanders campaign chief Jeff Weaver.

"We are announcing today that if the DNC continues to hold our data hostage, and continues to try to attack the heart and soul of our grassroots campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking immediate relief," he said.

Weaver added that the campaign has fired one staffer involved in the incident and that it is internally investigating whether other individuals should be disciplined.

"We are running a clean campaign," he said.

The breach happened after a software error at the technology company NGP VAN, which provides campaigns with voter data. As a result of the glitch, "all users on the system across the Democratic campaigns were inadvertently able to access some data belonging to other campaigns for a brief window," DNC spokesman Luis Miranda said in a statement.

Ten facts you should know about Bernie Sanders:

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10 things you don't know about Bernie Sanders
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Documents show Sanders staffers breached Clinton voter data

1. He's a socialist, and he doesn't deny it. When he ran for office in 1990 he responded to an ad trying to link him to Fidel Castro by saying,  "I am a socialist and everyone knows that."
 

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

2. He used to moonlight as a comedy actor, appearing in the 1999 film "My X-Girlfriends Wedding Reception."

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

3. He is the longest-serving Independent member of Congress ever.

 (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

4. He made headlines in in 2010 when he tried to block a deal that included a tax cut extension for the wealthy with a filibuster-like stand. The stunt trended on Twitter with the hashtag #filibernie and later crashed the Senate video server.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

5. He is not religious. While all past presidents have been openly religious and Christian, Sanders says he identifies as Jewish but doesn't practice. 

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

6. Despite being given an"F" rating by the NRA, Sanders has often voted in their favor. Once he voted to pass a bill that would prevent people from suing manufacturers, dealers and distributors when their products were misused.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

7. He grew up in a working class family in Brooklyn, and his father was a Polish immigrant.

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

8. He released an album called 'We Shall Overcome' in which he reads speeches about peace and justice with a choir singing in the background. It's available on iTunes. 

(Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)

9. He is a big believer in Scandinavian political thinking and has said that the U.S. should adopt some of their principles, including the idea that health care should be a right, and higher education should be free.

 (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

10. Barack Obama campaigned for him when he ran for Senate in 2006.
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Earlier Friday, in an interview with MSNBC's Tamron Hall, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the allegation is that the Sanders staffer or staffers accessed the Clinton campaign's voter-file information, exported it and downloaded it.

Another person familiar with the investigation also told NBC News that a total of four individuals affiliated with the Sanders campaign appear to have accessed the data, including national data Director Josh Uretsky, who has since been dismissed by the Sanders campaign, and Deputy National Data Director Russell Drapkin.

A series of documents outlining an audit trail maintained by the database company, obtained and reviewed by NBC News, shows that the four individuals spent a total of about 40 minutes conducting searches of the Clinton data. Those searches included terms that point to Sanders' team gaining access to proprietary lists from more than 10 early voting states of Clinton's likely supporters as well as lists for Sanders backers. That data was saved to personal folders.

It also appears that Drapkin "suppressed" two folders after the database company became aware of the breach.

The Clinton campaign learned of the breach on Wednesday, a source told NBC News.

The DNC's suspension of Sanders' access to the information means that Sanders will be at least temporarily unable to read crucial voter data in the weeks before the Iowa and New Hampshire nominating contests. The information is used by campaigns to determine their strategy for voter outreach and targeting.

A DNC official said that the campaign's credentials to access the NGP VAN "until a full explanation is received and proof is provided to the affected campaign that information and data inappropriately gathered has been disposed of."

See Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail:

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Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail
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Documents show Sanders staffers breached Clinton voter data
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks to a crowd gathered at the Phoenix Convention Center during a campaign rally on March 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary elections in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, while Missouri and Illinois remain tight races. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, speaks during a campaign rally in Springfield, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2105. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a portrait before an interview, Wednesday May 20, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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In a statement earlier Friday , Sanders' campaign faulted NGP VAN, the data systems vendor, for continuing to "make serious errors."

"On more than one occasion, the vendor has dropped the firewall between the data of different Democratic campaigns," the campaign said. "Our campaign months ago alerted the DNC to the fact that campaign data was being made available to other campaigns. At that time our campaign did not run to the media, relying instead on assurances from the vendor.

"Unfortunately, yesterday, the vendor once again dropped the firewall between the campaigns for some data."

The Washington Post was the first media outlet to report the breach.

Sanders and Clinton will meet next at the Democratic debate on Saturday.

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