Spicer said Tuesday he hasn't talked to Trump about the hacking
US intelligence agencies agree Russia is to blame
President Donald Trump is known for his blunt talk – on everything ranging from trade to immigration and the fight against ISIS. But throughout the 2016 campaign, and now in the White House, there’s one topic that he’s been less forthcoming about – Russia’s role interfering in the US election.
He’s answered questions about attempts to hack the 2016 election many different ways throughout the campaign and since ascending to the presidency – even speculating during a debate last year that it “could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
The unanimous assessment of the US intelligence community is clear: Russia orchestrated a series of hacks and cyberattacks to meddle in the 2016 election and help Trump beat Hillary Clinton. Intelligence agencies have not concluded that Russian efforts made a difference in the election result.
Only once has Trump clearly pointed the finger at the Russian government, and as recently as Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer dodged reporters’ questions on whether Trump holds that belief.
Here is a timeline of Trump’s comments about Russian interference in the election:
June 15, 2016
The Trump campaign said the Democratic National Committee probably hacked itself as a distraction.
“We believe it was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader,” Trump said in a statement, Politico reported. “Too bad the DNC doesn’t hack Crooked Hillary’s, 33,000 missing emails.”
September 8, 2016
Trump, in an interview with Larry King that aired on on the Kremlin-run RT, dismissed claims Russia hacked the DNC, and dismisses the notion that a Russian operation to disrupt the 2016 election is underway.
LARRY KING: Putin recently said that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails was a public service. You agree?
TRUMP: I don’t have any opinion on it. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know who hacked. I’m not sure who – I mean, you tell me, who hacked? Who did the hacking? But I have absolutely no opinion on that. I don’t know, I haven’t heard that statement.
KING: US intelligence and law enforcement agencies reportedly are investigating whether Russia launched a covert operation to disrupt the 2016 election. What do you make of that?
TRUMP: I don’t know. I’ve been hearing about it. I’ve been reading about it. I think it’s probably unlikely. I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out, who knows? But I think that it’s pretty unlikely, but you know, who knows? I hope that if they are doing something, I hope that somebody is going to be able to find out, so they can end it, because that would not be appropriate at all.
September 27, 2016
Trump dismissed allegations that Russia is behind the DNC hack during the first presidential debate.
“As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said, we should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not. I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China, but it could also be lots of other people, it also could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?
“Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don’t know, because the truth is, under President Obama we’ve lost control of things that we used to have control over. We came in with an Internet, we came up with the Internet. And I think Secretary Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the Internet, they’re beating us at our own game. ISIS.
“So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyberwarfare. It is a, it is a huge problem. I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly do-able. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing, but that’s true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester, and certainly cyber is one of them.”
October 10, 2016
At the second presidential debate, Trump dismissed claims that Russia is behind the hacks, questioned whether there are any hacks in the first place and said he has no business in Russia.