Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday said that there is “zero evidence” that Russia influenced the U.S. election.
Appearing on Fox News’ ‘Fox & Friends,’ Spicer said “The way the mainstream media is playing it up is that [Russia] had an influence on the election. There is zero evidence that they actually influenced the election.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint report last week detailing how federal investigators linked the Russian government to hacks of Democratic Party organizations.
The report made clear references to the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta without specifically naming them. It also provided technical details regarding tools and infrastructure used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities.”
The report came as part of a slate of retaliatory measures against Russia which were announced by the Obama administration last week in response to the cyber attacks.
However, Spicer emphasized on Monday that “whether or not they were hacked and they did anything is a completely different story” than whether Russia actually had an influence on the election.
Acknowledging that “hacking is wrong” and that “people shouldn’t be interfering,” Spicer, nonetheless, said that the “13 page report is more of a how to manual for the DNC as to how they can improve their IT security.”
For his part President-elect Donald Trump has continuously attempted to inject skepticism into any conclusion that Russians were involved in any hacking, let alone the conclusion that they actually were trying to tilt the election in Trump’s favor.
“I just want them to be sure because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Trump said at a New Year’s Even celebration on Saturday night, taking yet another shot at U.S. intelligence generally by referencing the conclusion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in 2003, “If you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong.”