Could Trump Be Reversing His Stance On Russia Hacking The United States?
President-Elect Donald Trump appears to be changing direction on his thoughts of Russia hacking the United States after a private security briefing from the nation’s top intelligence agencies on Friday.
Trump, soon-to-be 45th President of the United States, has been in a back and forth battle with the top intelligence agencies on the idea that Russia had interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election, and aided him in his victory. Agencies such as the CIA and FBI were more than confident that Russia had some role to play in the election, or at the very least, was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails under orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while Trump repeatedly opposed the intelligence agencies, saying that it could’ve been anyone. Trump even went as far as to agree with Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, and wanted man of the United States, in saying that a 14-year old could’ve hacked into Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s email account. However, after Friday’s briefing, the president-elect seems to be changing his position.
In a statement following the briefing, Trump said, “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups, and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses, and organizations including the Democratic National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering with voting machines.” It was already known that Russian never had a direct interference in the election; however, many debate that their interference was with the hacking and releasing of private emails from the DNC during the election.
The whole story of Russia interfering in the U.S. election could be traced back to September of 2015, when a special agent of the FBI contacted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to inform them that the FBI has identified the hackers to be a Russian-linked cyber-spy group responsible for infiltrating their network. The person who had answered the call was a tech-support contractor, who wasn’t sure if the call was real or fake, so no actions were taken in response.
On June 14, 2016, The Washington Post reported that the Russian government hackers were able to penetrate the DNC’s servers, and opposition files on the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, as well as email and chat exchanges, were compromised. The Russian government denied all allegations of the hacking. One month later, on July 22, Wikileaks had released private emails from DNC officials just days before the Democratic National Convention. The emails that were released were from early 2016 and the primaries, and they showed staffers of the DNC favoring Hillary Clinton over Vermont Sen, Bernie Sanders; however, they were not suppose to biased. Two days after the leak, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announces her resignation as Chairwoman of the DNC. Three days later, Hillary Clinton and her campaign had accused Russia of the hacking. At a press conference, Trump made a controversial statement, referencing emails that were wiped from Clinton’s private server. “I will tell you this, Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you’ll be mightily rewarded by our press.”
In the first presidential debate of the general election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton brought up the hacking, in which Republican candidate Donald Trump expressed great skepticism. “I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China,” argued Trump. “It also could be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds, OK?” On Oct. 7, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of Director of National Intelligence stated that they were confident that the Russian government directed the compromises of e-mails from the DNC, and their goal was to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. That same day, Wikileaks released the first chunk of emails of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account. Podesta’s email would continue to be leaked for several weeks.
On Dec. 9, after Trump defeated Clinton in a shocking political upset, President Obama called for a full review of foreign government attempts to sway the presidential election. Seeing as Clinton had a very large edge over Trump in pre-election polls, the CIA had suspicions that Russia had interfered in the election and aided Trump in his victory. Trump had responded, saying, “These are the same people who said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history, It’s time to move on and Make America Great Again.” A week later, President Obama held a press conference in which he had stated that the hacks were initiated by the highest-level of Russian government, and that retaliation is eminent. He also clarified that the hacking was only of emails, not voting machines as many had speculated.
On Dec. 29, Obama announced sanctions for Russia which included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the country, and the closing of compounds in Maryland and New York under the suspicion that they were being used for intelligence gatherings. “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. Interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama stated..
While Democrats and a vast majority of Republicans agreed with both the CIA and FBI, Donald Trump maintained his stance that Russia had no part in the hacking of the DNC until the Jan. 6 intelligence briefing where it appears he is making a complete turn around. Most politic pundits had assumptions that Trump would maintain his position even after the briefing, and thought that Trump would remove the sanctions on Russia once he assumes office; however, will that be the case now, seeing as Trump is apparently changing his stance?
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