Donald Trump no longer denies that Russia orchestrated a cyber-attack against Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her party, according to his top advisers, who also blamed Democrats for the breach and falsely characterized the testimony of an intelligence chief to Congress.
Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told Fox News Sunday the president-elect “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign”.
“I think he accepts the findings,” Priebus said, referring to an FBI, CIA and NSA report on Russian interference in the election. A declassified version was released to the public on Friday, asserting that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, “ordered” the operation to get Trump elected. Trump received a classified briefing earlier that day.
Priebus then tried to diminish the effects of the hack, which was for the US an unprecedented campaign of releasing stolen emails, through proxies such as WikiLeaks, from selected candidates and staffers.
“When this whole thing started, it started from the Russians 50 years ago, in other words this is something that has been going on in our elections for many many years,” Priebus said. “It happens every election period.”
Putin has denied any role in the hacks. Trump himself has not said whether he accepts the CIA, FBI and NSA’s “high confidence” conclusion that Putin ordered the hack to undermine the legitimacy of the election and assist the Republican’s campaign.
During the election campaign, Trump sometimes contradicted and rejected statements made on his behalf by advisers. He has scheduled a press conference, after months of delay, for later this week.