President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday finally appeared to publicly say that Russia was behind the hacking and release of emails from within the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair.
“I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people,” Trump said at his first press conference in 169 days.
The president-elect then referenced China’s likely 2014 breach of the Office of Personnel Management. “And I can say that, you know, when we lost 22 million names and all that was hacked recently, they didn’t make a big deal out of that,” he said.
Intelligence agencies declassified a report earlier this month that said Russia was likely the source of the hacks, which disclosed occasionally embarrassing internal squabbles and decisions among top Democratic Party officials.
Despite the emerging reports, for months Trump dismissed Russia’s role in the hacking, repeatedly saying it could have instead been “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump also addressed reports that Russia hacked the Republican National Committee but did not release the findings, hypothesizing that Russia would’ve leaked the emails in a similar fashion as the DNC leaks or the leaked emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
“I think, frankly, had they had broken into the Republican National Committee, I think they would’ve released it just like they did about Hillary and all of the horrible things that her people, like Mr. Podesta, said about her,” Trump said.
After dismissing a report published on Tuesday by BuzzFeed that included unverified documents that alleged Russian intelligence agents both provided information to Trump and had compromising information about him, the president-elect said he “respected the fact” that Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the veracity of the report, and he said the two may have a good relationship.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability,” Trump said. “We have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS, which, by the way, is, number one, tricky.”
“I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin,” the president-elect added. “I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t. But if I don’t, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.”