President-elect Donald Trump finally appeared to publicly accept that Russia was behind the hacking and release of internal emails within the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair.
“I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries, and other people,” Trump said at his first conference in 169 days.
The president-elect then referenced China’s likely 2015 breach of the Office of Personnel Management: “And I can say that, you know, when we lost 22 million names, and all that was lost recently, they didn’t make a big deal out of that.”
Intelligence agencies declassified a report earlier this month alleging that Russia was likely the source of the hacks, which disclosed occasionally embarrassing internal squabbles and decisions among top Democratic party officials.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump also addressed reports that Russia hacked the RNC but did not release the findings, hypothesizing that Russia would’ve leaked the emails in a similar fashion to the DNC leaks or the leaked emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
“I think, frankly, if they had broken into the Republican National Committee, I think they would’ve released it, just like they did about Hillary, and all the horrible things that her people, like Mr. Podesta said about her,” Trump said.
After dismissing the unverified report published by BuzzFeed which alleged Russian intelligence agents both compromised and provided information to Trump, the president-elect said he “respected the fact” that Putin denied the veracity of the report, and said the two may have a good relationship.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset not a liability,” Trump said. “We have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS, which is, number one, tricky.”
“I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin,” the president-elect added. “I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t. But if I don’t, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Give me a break.”