US President-elect Donald Trump knew well before the November 8 presidential election that Russia was behind hacking attacks against some Democratic organizations, according to the White House.
Speaking on Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest also claimed that Trump knew Moscow was trying to damage the campaign of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“There’s ample evidence that was known long before the election and in most cases long before October about the Trump campaign and Russia — everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent,” Earnest said.
The New York businessman has repeatedly accused Clinton of not telling the truth about using a personal email server to exchange potentially sensitive emails during her tenure as the secretary of state.
During the campaign, Trump “sarcastically” invited Russian hackers to infiltrate Clinton’s email and reveal her secrets.
“It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he had available to him, that Russia was involved and their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent’s campaign,” Earnest added.
In the final weeks before the Election Day, thousands of hacked emails belonging to Clinton’s top aide John Podesta were released to the media, revealing dark secrets about her.
Before that, hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had exposed an insider attempt within the party to undermine Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in favor of Clinton.
US intelligence officials claimed back then that hackers sponsored by Moscow were trying to affect the outcome of the election.
“It was obvious to those who were covering the race that the hack-and-leak strategy that had been operationalized was not being equally applied to the two parties and to the two campaigns,” Earnest said Wednesday. “There’s one side that was bearing the brunt of that strategy and another side that was clearly benefiting from it.”
Although President Barack Obama and his administration firmly believe that Russia was indeed trying to intervene, Trump himself rejects the notion, accusing the outgoing president of politicizing the issue.
The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the charges on several occasions, saying the allegations were indicated an infighting among US intelligence bodies.
US intelligence officials believe with “a high level of confidence” that Putin became involved in hacking during the American election campaign as part of a “vendetta” against Clinton, NBC News reported on Wednesday.
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