It doesn’t look like we will have a peaceful transition of power. The White House and Donald Trump’s transition team are saying a mouthful over allegations Russia helped Trump win the presidency, and it’s starting to get nasty.
On Thursday White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated his belief that Trump, indeed, knew of Russia’s interference in the presidential election.
Earnest said,“Mr. Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyber activity that was helping him and hurting Secretary Clinton’s campaign. First of all, it is just a fact — you have it all on tape — that the Republican nominee for president was encouraging Russia to hack his opponent because he believed that that would help his campaign,” he said. “That’s not a controversial statement. I’m not trying to be argumentative, but I am trying to acknowledge a basic fact. And all of you saw it. This is not in dispute.”
Kellyanne Conway disagreed, and she ripped into Earnest on Thursday morning saying that outgoing press secretary was “auditioning to be a political pundit after his job is over soon.”
“That is incredibly disappointing to hear from the podium of the White House press secretary,” she told Fox News, referring to Earnest’s prior comments from Wednesday. “Because he basically — 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.”
“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?” Trump tweeted on Thursday, continuing his run as the only major American political figure to deny Russia’s involvement.
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?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
Earnest responded to the tweet, saying:
“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. 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. It wasn’t a secret. It’s obvious what the impact was.”
Earnest concluded, “I don’t think anybody at the White House thinks it’s funny that an adversary of the United States engaged in malicious cyber activity to destabilize our democracy. Nobody at the White House thought it was a joke. Nobody in the intelligence community thought it was a joke. I’m not aware that any members of Congress in either party that was briefed on this matter multiple times dating back to the summer thought it was a joke.”
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