Trump team turns focus of Russia report to cybersecurity holes – The Hill
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSenate readies for blizzard of confirmation battles Clinton gets standing ovation from Broadway audience Shkreli suspended from Twitter after targeting Teen Vogue journalist MORE‘s team used appearances on the Sunday morning news shows to try to shift the public focus on the intelligence community’s report on Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential race.
Instead of focusing on the crux of the report — that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a multifaceted campaign aimed at helping Trump take the White House — members of the president-elect’s team emphasized Russia’s failure to actually disrupt the country’s democracy and influence election results.
Incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday he thinks Trump accepts the findings of the intelligence community.
“He is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign,” Priebus told “Fox News Sunday.”
But, he alleged, that’s not new.
“It happens every election period,” he said.
“Now, in this particular case, it started way back in 2015, before either nominee of either party was chosen, and it started, and this is declassified, as a spear phishing exhibition over many different institutions.”Priebus went on to blast the Democratic National Committee for not having better protection in place for its systems, saying it was warned multiple times by the FBI before being hacked.
“Yes, we have bad actors around the world. We have had bad actors, including the Russians,” Priebus said.
“But we also have a problem when we have a major political institution that allows foreign governments into their system with hardly any defenses or training. That’s a huge story, and that’s what people aren’t talking about as well.”
Trump aide Kellyanne Conway tried to drive that point home in an interview with “Meet the Press.”
She said foreign entities hacking the U.S. is not new and sought to pivot from discussing election meddling, alleging that under President Obama there have been hacks of the Department of Defense and Department of State.
“Very concerning,” she said of such cyber attacks on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” noting there was ” very little punishment.”
Americans should know the country is “woefully unprepared for cybersecurity in the 21st century,” she added.
Conway then commended the president-elect for his plans to combat cyberattacks within the first 90 days of his term.
“I think this is important in moving forward in a progress-minded fashion,” she said.
At the same time, she maintained that Russia’s attempt to meddle in the presidential race had failed.
“They did not succeed. They did not succeed to embarrassing this country on the world stage,” she said.
“They did not succeed in throwing the election to Donald Trump. That’s very clear in this report.”
She said Trump ran successfully on his “America first” plans, and didn’t need the WikiLeaks release of Clinton campaign emails to put the Democratic candidate’s downfalls on display.
“We didn’t need WikiLeaks to convince the American people that they didn’t like her, didn’t trust her, didn’t find her to be honest,” Conway told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
The declassified report released Friday said Russia’s goals were to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
“We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report said.
The president-elect had previously and repeatedly refused to accept the intelligence community’s conclusions and treated the assessment as an attack on his legitimacy of his presidency.
After receiving an intelligence briefing on Friday, Trump praised the groups, but maintained that the Russian meddling had no effect on the election outcome.
“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, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” he said in a statement.
“There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful,” he added.
On Saturday, the president-elect tweeted that having a good relationship with Russia was a “good thing,” signaling how policy may shift once he takes office.
“Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad!” he tweeted.
“We have enough problems around the world without yet another one.”