White House fans flames over Trump and hack­ing

Insin­u­ates he knew, en­cour­aged breach

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVE BOYER

The White House dou­bled down Thurs­day on Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s pur­ported knowl­edge of Rus­sia’s hack­ing dur­ing the elec­tion, say­ing Mr. Trump should “co­op­er­ate” with a govern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether Moscow’s in­ter­fer­ence helped him to win the pres­i­dency.

White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest said that rather than at­tack­ing the cred­i­bil­ity of U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, Mr. Trump should “ac­tu­ally be sup­port­ive of a thor­ough, trans­par­ent, vig­or­ous, non-po­lit­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into ex­actly what hap­pened, and to co­op­er­ate with it.”

Pres­i­dent Obama’s spokesman re­peated the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­cu­sa­tion that Mr. Trump “ob­vi­ously knew that Rus­sia was en­gaged in ma­li­cious cy­ber­ac­tiv­ity that was help­ing him and hurt­ing Sec­re­tary [Hil­lary] Clin­ton’s cam­paign.”

Trump ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way said Thurs­day that Mr. Earnest’s com­ments are “ir­re­spon­si­ble.”

“He essen­tially stated that the pres­i­dent-elect had knowl­edge of this, maybe even fanned the flames. It’s in­cred­i­bly ir­re­spon­si­ble and I won­der if his boss, Pres­i­dent Obama agrees,” she said on “Fox & Friends.”

For his part, Mr. Trump again raised doubts about the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s as­sess­ment that Rus­sia med­dled in the elec­tion.

“If Rus­sia, or some other en­tity, was hack­ing, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only com­plain af­ter Hil­lary lost?” Mr. Trump tweeted Thurs­day.

The pres­i­dent-elect also slammed Mr. Earnest at a rally Thurs­day night in Her­shey, Penn­syl­va­nia.

“This fool­ish guy, Josh Earnest, I don’t know,” Mr. Trump told the crowd. “You know, hav­ing the right press sec­re­tary is so im­por­tant be­cause he’s so bad the way he de­liv­ers a mes­sage. He can de­liver a pos­i­tive mes­sage and it sounds bad. He could say ‘ladies and gen­tle­men, to­day we have to­tally de­feated ISIS,’ and it wouldn’t sound good, OK?”

Mr. Trump added, “Maybe he is get­ting his or­ders from some­body else?”

Con­clu­sions by pri­vate an­a­lysts about al­leged Rus­sian hack­ing were known last May. White House of­fi­cials say the ad­min­is­tra­tion held back with ac­cu­sa­tions un­til Oc­to­ber be­cause it took time for 17 govern­ment in­tel­li­gence agen­cies to reach a con­sen­sus, and be­cause Mr. Obama didn’t want to ap­pear to be in­flu­enc­ing the agen­cies’ work or med­dling in the elec­tion.

Mr. Earnest also ridiculed the Trump team’s ex­pla­na­tion that Mr. Trump was be­ing sar­cas­tic in July when he sug­gested pub­licly that Rus­sia should lo­cate the emails miss­ing from Mrs. Clin­ton’s pri­vate server.

“You all have it on tape,” Mr. Earnest told re­porters. “The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent was en­cour­ag­ing Rus­sia to hack his op­po­nent be­cause he be­lieved that would help his cam­paign. I don’t think any­body at the White House thinks it’s funny that an ad­ver­sary of the United States en­gaged in ma­li­cious cy­ber­ac­tiv­ity to desta­bi­lize our democ­racy. That’s not a joke. No­body at the White House thought it was a joke. No­body in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity thought it was a joke.”

The pres­i­dent’s spokesman edged closer to the lan­guage of con­spir­acy when talk­ing about Mr. Trump’s ac­tions.

“It was ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­one who was pay­ing at­ten­tion, in­clud­ing the gentle­man whose thumbs au­thored that tweet, that the im­pact of that ma­li­cious ac­tiv­ity ben­e­fited the Trump cam­paign and hurt the Clin­ton cam­paign,” Mr. Earnest said. “That is, af­ter all, why the pres­i­dent-elect called on Rus­sia to hack Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s email. That is pre­sum­ably why the cov­er­age of the hack-and-leak op­er­a­tion that Rus­sia car­ried out was fo­cused on emails from the Demo­cratic Party and Clin­ton cam­paign staffers and not the Repub­li­can Party and Trump cam­paign staffers.”

Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on July 27, in the midst of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, Mr. Trump said, “I will tell you this, Rus­sia: If you’re lis­ten­ing, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are miss­ing. I think you will prob­a­bly be re­warded might­ily by our press.”

His barb came amid per­sis­tent ques­tions about Mrs. Clin­ton’s care­less han­dling of clas­si­fied emails, and about what Mrs. Clin­ton claimed was the harm­less dele­tion of thou­sands of the emails from the pri­vate server that she used while work­ing as sec­re­tary of state.

In ad­di­tion, Rus­sia al­ready had done what­ever hack­ing it did, and Mrs. Clin­ton’s server was wiped, off­line and in FBI cus­tody.

Mr. Earnest spec­u­lated that Mr. Trump learned of the Rus­sian cy­ber­at­tacks by “re­ly­ing on news reports, [or] maybe some­body on Capi­tol Hill who had been briefed about this mat­ter had in­formed him or his team about it.

Craig Mur­ray, a for­mer Bri­tish en­voy with con­nec­tions to Wik­iLeaks founder Ju­lian As­sange, said this week that he re­ceived the dam­ag­ing emails from a “dis­gusted” Demo­cratic insider in Wash­ing­ton dur­ing a clan­des­tine pack­age drop in Septem­ber.

Ms. Con­way ac­cused Mr. Earnest of “ba­si­cally try­ing to re­lit­i­gate a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign” when both teams “are try­ing to work very closely to have a peace­ful transition of power in a great democ­racy with just about a month-plus to go.”

Asked about Mr. Trump’s tweet on Thurs­day, transition com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Ja­son Miller said he would “let the pres­i­dent-elect’s tweets speak for them­selves.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.