Donald Trump took aim at the Democratic National Committee for being hacked by Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, blaming the organization and saying it should be “ashamed” while praising Republicans for having “stronger defenses” against the Russian interference.
The controversial statements come just two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced indictments against 12 Russian military officers for leading the hack on the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, and one day before Trump is set to meet in a private summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Politico noted, Trump’s remarks did not lay any blame on Russia for the attack but rather pointed fingers at top Democrats.
“The DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses, and they were able to be hacked,” Trump said in an interview that aired on the CBS News program Face the Nation. “I heard they were trying to hack the Republicans, too. But, and this may be wrong, but they had much stronger defenses.”
Donald Trump extended the blame for the attack beyond the DNC, saying that Barack Obama was also responsible. On Saturday, Trump responded to the indictments of the Russian military officials by saying Obama failed to properly react to the Russian attack, thinking that Hillary Clinton would win.
“This was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration,” Trump said in Sunday’s interview.
Barack Obama did attempt to push back against Russia’s election interference during the election, the Washington Post reported, but received considerable pushback from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said he doubted the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was behind the attack. McConnell refused to endorse a bipartisan statement condemning Russia, leading the Obama administration to worry that it would look like a politically motivated move to influence the election.
Donald Trump has been criticized for his decision to press forward with the private meeting with Putin even after indictments against the Russian military for attacking the United States. Trump has continued to express optimism for the meeting, saying Putin could be a “friend,” even as Trump leveled attacks against the European Union, calling them America’s foe in an interview this weekend. A number of Democratic lawmakers had called on Trump to cancel the summit with Putin amid evidence of the Russian attacks and Putin’s refusal to acknowledge Russia’s responsibility for it.