President-elect Donald Trump is less than enthusiastic about some senators’ suggestion that Russia ―
and perhaps even Vladimir Putin himself ― should be sanctioned for interfering in the U.S. elections, telling reporters Wednesday that it’s time people move on.
For Trump, the real culprit isn’t the Russian president or his hackers. It’s computers and technology.
“I think we ought to get on with our lives,” Trump said Wednesday, according to the pool report. He was at his Mar-a-Lago resort, standing next to boxing promoter Don King. “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind the security we need. But I have not spoken with the senators and I will certainly will be over a period of time.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have been clear in saying that they have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. The FBI, CIA and the director of national intelligence have agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Intelligence officials also recently told NBC News that they have “a high level of confidence” that Putin himself was involved in the covert operation.
“There will be bipartisan sanctions coming that will hit Russia hard, particularly Putin as an individual,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday.
When asked directly about Graham’s suggestion about sanctions on Putin, Trump replied Wednesday, “I don’t know what he’s doing. I haven’t spoken to Sen. Graham. … [A]s you know, he ran against me.”
Although a bipartisan group of lawmakers have called for a special select panel to probe cyber-warfare threats from Russia and other U.S. adversaries, including Iran and China, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has insisted any investigation will stay within the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump has long had a cozy relationship with Putin, going out of his way to praise him during the campaign and resisting joining the chorus of criticism over Russia’s involvement in the elections. He has said the idea that Russia tried to help him win was “ridiculous.”
“Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting,” he said on “Fox News Sunday” earlier this month. “Once they hack, if you don’t catch them in the act you’re not going to catch them. They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. I mean, they have no idea.”
During the presidential campaign, emails from the Democratic National Committee and the private account of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, were hacked and released on WikiLeaks. The DNC emails, in particular, caused turmoil within the party as supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), citing exchanges in the released emails, accused party officials of tipping the scales for Clinton during the primary campaign.