As Donald Trump prepares to meet with the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies next week, his new White House Spokesman Sean Spicer continues to express skepticism and dodge questions about the conclusions reached from U.S. intelligence agencies that recently announced the Russian government was behind the hacking of computer networks associated with the U.S. election.
Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Trump’s White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump has to receive the briefing first from the intelligence community and criticized the media for “leaping forward” and making conclusions based off “anonymous sources” that are coming out of the intelligence community.
When Trump Spokesman Spicer was told by ABC Host Jonathan Karl that the sources were not anonymous and are verifiable, he shifted the blame away from Russia and towards the Democratic National Committee for having inadequate IT security and spun the discussion 180 degrees away in another direction by questioning the reason Hillary Clinton received primary debate questions ahead of time and criticizing the way President Obama handled a 2015 Chinese hack of U.S. federal employees.
“Why aren’t we talking about Hillary Clinton getting debate questions ahead of time? That’s a pretty valid attempt to influence an election” Spicer said.
Hacking into the computers of a U.S. political party and releasing confidential information via Wiki Leaks that proved to be damaging during an important election is a serious intrusion of the U.S. democracy and democratic process by a foreign government whose policies often contradict those of the U.S.
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer seems to overlook that fact and failed to acknowledge that Trump has already refused to receive important U.S. intelligence briefings on his own volition that were offered to him.
To suggest that providing debate questions to a Democratic candidate before a primary debate is the same equivalency of a foreign intrusion of the U.S. aimed at manipulating the outcome of an important presidential race, shows some serious denial and cover-up by a Trump spokesman.
California Congressman Adam Shiff (D- California) said on ABC’s This Week that the evidence that the hacking came from the Russians is “very solid” and emphasized that Trump needs to stop talking about how he knows things that other people don’t know.
“If he’s going to have any credibility as president, he needs to stop talking this way. He needs to stop denigrating the intelligence community. He’s going to rely on them. He’s going to have to rely on them” Shiff said.
“And this is the overwhelming judgment of the intelligence community and, frankly, all of the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, Democrats and Republicans. None of us have any question about this. The only one who does apparently is Donald Trump” Shiff added.
Shiff made a clear distinction about the magnitude of the Russian hacking job that was aimed at changing the outcome of the U.S. election for their advantage through the Wiki Leaks compared to China hacking that gained information about U.S. federal employees.
“They dumped it during an election with the specific intent of influencing the outcomes of that election and sowing discord in the United States. That is not something China has ever done. That is not something, frankly, Russia has ever done here, although it has done it in Europe” Shiff said.
The CIA and the Department of National Intelligence are in full agreement in concluding that the Russian government supported the Russian hacks during the U.S. election.
On December 29th the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security both issued a joint statement that provides clear details of the cyber attacks, including Russian code names and IP addresses, used by Russian civilian and Russia’s military intelligence services (RIS) to hack into the computers of a U.S. political entity.
The joint statement concludes that the Russian hacking included a “range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities” which the U.S. government has now termed GRIZZILY STEPPE by Russia’s military intelligence services.
The fact that a Trump spokesman continues to sow the seeds of doubt about Russian complicity during the presidential election sheds some light about Trump’s true allegiances and character from the billionaire Republican with no political experience who has already selected Rex Tillerson, an Exxon CEO and Chairman, to serve as U.S. Secretary of State.
Tillerson has clearly established ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other important figures in Russian politics.
Confirmation of Tillerson still needs Congressional approval and some Republicans such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) have questioned Tillerson’s close ties to the Kremlin while working for Exxon.
Tillerson has criticized sanctions against Russia which have impacted joint oil exploration projects in the Russian Arctic.
Besides meddling in the U.S. election, Russia has been an aggressive actor on the international stage and was involved in an incursion in Ukraine in 2014 that culminated in Russia annexing Crimea as well as supporting Russian separatists in southern Ukraine.
Russia has sent military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose government in Damascus stands accused of violating human rights by using chemical weapons against civilian populations in Syria.
Here is my latest You Tube video ( see below) where I provide some additional commentary about Trump and Russian hacking during the U.S. election season.