To the astonishment of both Congress and the American people, Trump has continued to believe President Vladimir Putin’s assertions that Russia had no hand in the cyberattacks despite waffling in front of the press about those claims, and a breaking story from The New York Times may explain why.
While Trump changes his position on an almost daily basis on whether or not Russia did exactly what four intelligence agencies confirmed that they did, and which no one in Congress now denies, his new communications director confirmed that Trump is still unsure that Russia was responsible for the hacks performed to influence the 2016 presidential elections in Trump’s favor. Citing an unnamed source that Scaramucci was later forced to admit was none other than the president himself, the new communications director told Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union that:
‘Somebody said to me yesterday—I won’t tell you who—that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those emails, you would have never seen it, you would have never had any evidence of them.’
It seems baffling that Trump is still holding to that line, but a new report by The New York Times makes the president’s position far more clear. Trump changes his position on Russian hacking at times when his feet are held to the fire, but:
‘When Mr. Trump met Mr. Putin in Hamburg, Germany, two weeks ago, he did not utter similar suspicions, at least in public. In fact, he emerged to tell his aides that the Russian president had offered a compelling rejoinder: Moscow’s cyberoperators are so good at covert computer-network operations that if they had dipped into the Democratic National Committee’s systems, they would not have been caught.’
A belief in those assertions certainly falls in line with statements made by Trump throughout the campaign and during his presidency. Shortly before Trump’s inauguration, the president tweeted:
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
While that claim is entirely untrue, it also speaks to Trump’s assurance from Putin that if Russia had been responsible for the hacks, there is no way U.S. intelligence and cybersecurity experts would have been able to identify the hackers or their country of origin. Russian cyberattackers are just that good, according to Putin, and it seems the president is more than ready to believe him lest the legitimacy of his 2016 win be questioned.
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Featured image via Getty/Mikhail Klimentyev