By now, it’s clear that the Russian government was involved in this summer’s public leak of emails from the DNC. Experts from across the industry have pointed to the country as the most likely culprit, and in October, the intelligence community confirmed it with an official attribution, saying “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
It’s a unique incident, raising profound questions about the robustness of western democracy and posing a serious challenge for leaders across the world. Unfortunately, the incoming US president isn’t convinced it happened at all
In an interview with Time — which named him Person of the Year — Trump repeated his doubts about Russia’s involvement in the hack:
I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.’
Why not get along with Russia? And they can help us fight ISIS, which is both costly in lives and costly in money. And they’re effective and smart.
It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.
I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.
This is not the first time the president-elect has questioned Russia’s involvement in the hack. Trump expressed similar doubts during the presidential debates — crediting “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” — and has remained consistent in the months since.
But with the transition in full swing, Trump now has the full support of the intelligence community, which, again, unequivocally attributed the attack to agents of the Russian government. It’s hard to say whether Trump isn’t convinced or just isn’t listening, but it’s an ominous way to start, particularly given the presidency’s many opportunities to manipulate intelligence for political gain.
The comments have already drawn harsh criticism from Democrats in Congress. “President-elect Trump’s comments this morning continue to contradict our intelligence professionals and carry water for the Kremlin,” said Adam Schiff (D-CA) in a statement. “At some point in the future when we have a national security crisis, the American people will need to trust the words that come from the Trump Administration, and the false statements and fake news stories propagated by his team are making that tougher each and every day.”