Trump calls Russia election hack a ‘big Dem hoax’
ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to call Russian interference in the 2016 election a “big Dem hoax” and slammed the Democratic National Committee over how it dealt with the hacking of its email systems last year.
“Why did the DNC REFUSE to turn over its Server to the FBI, and still hasn’t?” Trump wrote on Twitter. “It’s all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election!”
…Why did the DNC REFUSE to turn over its Server to the FBI, and still hasn't? It's all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
On Wednesday, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testified at a House Intelligence Committee hearing about what his agency knew about Russian interference and how it attempted to prevent it during the campaign season. Jeh also answered questions about what then-President Barack Obama knew, as well as coordination between the DNC and the DHS.
Specifically, Johnson was questioned about whether the DHS helped the DNC after learning about possible Russian hacking.
“The FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion,” said Johnson, adding later, “the DNC did not feel it needed DHS’s assistance at that time.”
Trump seized on Johnson’s comments, blasting the Democrats in an additional tweet for not working with the DHS to prevent the hacks.
“Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election). It’s all a big Dem HOAX!” he wrote.
The tweet appeared to answer a question that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer couldn’t during Tuesday’s press briefing. Spicer was asked whether Trump stands by the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tampered with the 2016 election and said only that he hadn’t “sat down and asked [Trump] about his specific reaction.”
Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz contradicted Johnson, issuing a statement Wednesday which claimed: “At no point during my tenure at the DNC did anyone from the FBI or any other government agency contact or communicate with me about Russian intrusion on the DNC network.”
“It is astounding to me that the chair of an organization like the DNC was never contacted by the FBI or any other agency concerned about these intrusions,” she added.
In a third tweet Thursday morning, Trump asked: “By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?”
At a forum hosted by the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday, Johnson responded to Trump’s tweets but did not say whether he felt the president had twisted his words, adding that he would “leave that to the journalists.” He also advised people to focus on the current administration’s actions around Russian interference rather than past efforts by the DNC or Obama administration.
“The larger question that we need to address is, now that we know what happened, what are we going to do about it…to stop a foreign superpower from interfering in our democracy,” Johnson said.
He added that he believes that America remains “exposed.”
Johnson said the U.S. “has not done much to harden” its cyber defense systems, and stressed that a more robust defense would make hacking the U.S. “cost-prohibitive” for other countries in the future.
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