The view of the American intelligence community is that Russia used cyberattacks to manipulate the presidential election. That conclusion was enhanced by Friday’s news that the CIA recently briefed senators about “growing body of intelligence from multiple sources” indicating Russia’s goal was to help elect Donald Trump, not just create chaos.
Unless you catch "hackers" in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn't this brought up before election?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
But Trump’s claim about hacking wasn’t “brought up” before the election is contradicted by his own Twitter feed. For instance, check out this tweet from late July:
The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2016
That tweet was posted two days before the last news conference Trump has held— a news conference where he brazenly encouraged Russian hackers to “find” tens of thousands of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server, adding that media coverage would result in the hackers being “rewarded mightily by our press.”
Trump later attempted to walk that comment back by tweeting that he hopes whoever has Clinton’s emails shares them with the FBI, not the media.
In October, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, issued an unusual joint statement stating that “the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.” Clinton discussed Clapper and Johnson’s findings during the final presidential debate.
Hillary Clinton *literally* brought this up in the 3rd debate pic.twitter.com/0rkW0JRaDQ
— jeremy cabo 🥕 (@jeremycabo) December 12, 2016
As can be seen in that clip, Trump rejected Clapper and Johnson’s conclusions about Russia’s meddling. Trump struck a similar note during the first debate when he said that “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” might actually be the culprit responsible for hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, not Russia.
Trump: hackers could be Russia, China, or a "guy sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds." pic.twitter.com/KZUJsJkwXO
— Mashable News (@MashableNews) September 27, 2016
Russian hacking was a frequent topic of conversation before the election — including by Trump himself — not something suddenly concocted by liberals upset about Clinton’s loss. His denial of that easily verifiable fact is another example of how Trump embodies a new, bewildering brand of American politics where nothing can be known for certain.