The Times-Tribune

Eyes on presidenti­al electors

Trump aides: Hacks don’t change results

- BY ANNE FLAHERTY

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s top aides on Sunday said the president-elect isn’t ready to accept the finding by intelligen­ce officials that Moscow hacked Democratic emails in a bid to elevate Mr. Trump. Even if it’s true, they said, Mr. Trump still won the White House fair and square.

The pushback came a day before members of the Electoral College are scheduled to formally cast votes for Mr. Trump as the 45th president. While Democrats likely are powerless to stop it, they suggested Mr. Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton would forever be tainted by Russian meddling.

Republican electors have been inundated by Trump opponents urging them to defy the results in their states and vote against Mr. Trump.

“This whole thing is a spin job,” said Mr. Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus. “And I think what the Democrats ought to do is look in the mirror and

face the reality that they lost the election.”

Mr. Trump weighed in Sunday evening, tweeting, “If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned & called terrible names!”

The partisan swipes mostly ignored warnings by foreign policy experts that part of Russia’s calculatio­n also was likely payback for years of U.S. criticism of its own elections and a desire to portray America as a flawed champion of democracy — potentiall­y weakening U.S. power on the world stage. Russia has vehemently denied the accusation.

Many lawmakers, including some leading Republican­s, say voters may not have been swayed by the release of tens of thousands of private emails. But the fact that a foreign power tried to intervene in U.S. democracy and exploit divisions in American politics is cause for alarm, they say.

Still, Mr. Trump’s transition team and loyalists on Capitol Hill weren’t buying it, at least not on the eve of the Electoral College vote.

“Where’s the evidence?” asked Kellyanne Conway, another close Trump adviser.

Democrats say it’s unlikely the public will ever hear detailed evidence because doing so would disclose classified sources and methods. But with last week’s declaratio­n by CIA Director John Brennan that there was “strong consensus” that Russia hacked Democrats to try to sway the election, lawmakers are stepping up demands for closed-door briefings and a congressio­nal investigat­ion.

As president-elect, Mr. Trump would have access to high-level intelligen­ce on the matter, although it’s unclear what he’s been told.

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