Donald Trump walked out of his much-publicized meeting with intelligence officials where he was briefed on the evidence that Russia hacked the DNC to purposely throw the election for Trump – and promptly made a complete ass of himself.
Rather than acknowledge that he was premature in discounting Russian involvement, Trump released a statement that didn’t acknowledge the Russian hacking at all. Instead, he chose to victim-blame the DNC for not doing a better job of preventing the attack.
To put a finer point on it: When it came time to hold Russia accountable for their meddling in a democratic election, Trump instead blamed the victim.
“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee (Note: spelling error is his), there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines. There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful.”
That last part is not exactly true. There is reason to believe that Russian hackers did obtain hacked RNC info, but chose not to release it.
They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.
Trump ended his statement by encouraging “our government, organizations, associations or businesses” in being more careful with cybersecurity. Again, he ignores the perpetrators of the hack to admonish those who were the victims.
This builds on Trump’s earlier claim that the DNC was somehow involved in either covering up the hack (which makes no sense) or fabricating the hack entirely (which is insane):
The Democratic National Committee would not allow the FBI to study or see its computer info after it was supposedly hacked by Russia……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017
The omission of any talk of Russia’s involvement is telling and reporters picked up on it instantly.
Trump stmt on intel briefing refuses to acknowledge Russian hacking influenced the election; still suggests doubts Russia was behind it pic.twitter.com/Sjm4b6r2Zc
— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) January 6, 2017
It’s also glaring because the leaked intel report revealed by both NBC News and the Washington Post showed that the intelligence community has damning evidence linking Russia to the hacks. Presumably, this information would have been conveyed to Trump during this meeting. And it appears that he chose to ignore it completely, letting Russia off the hook.
Senior Russian officials celebrated Donald Trump’s election victory as a geopolitical win for Moscow, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing U.S. officials who said intercepted communications showed the Russians congratulating themselves on the outcome.
The ebullient reaction among high-ranking Russian officials – including some who U.S. officials believe had knowledge of the country’s cyber campaign to interfere in the U.S. election – contributed to the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow’s efforts were aimed at least in part at helping Trump win the White House, the Post reported.
This statement only reinforces the idea that Trump is not interested in getting to the bottom of one of the most egregious cases of election tampering ever conducted within the United States. And the motive seems to be solely because Trump personally benefited from the crimes committed.
UPDATE: And it appears Trump was lying about what the intelligence agencies told him. What a surprise. The CIA did not tell Trump that the hacking had “no outcome on the election” – that’s a fabrication.
The summary of the DNI report and Trump's statement appear to disagree on this point. pic.twitter.com/ZipHgYvw6y
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) January 6, 2017
Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images