President-elect warns reporters on New Year’s Eve against being quick to pin blame on Moscow for the hacking of Democratic party emails
Donald Trump has expressed continued skepticism over whether Russia was responsible for computer hacks of Democratic party officials.
In remarks to reporters upon entering a New Year’s Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Saturday night, Trump warned against being quick to pin the blame on Russia for the hacking of US emails.
“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge,” he said.
“And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong.”
US intelligence officials have said that they are confident Russia was behind the US election hacks, which could have played a role in Trump’s defeat over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
On Thursday, Barack Obama announced tough measures against Moscow, including the expulsion of 35 diplomats and the closure of two compounds in the US. Russia chose not to respond in kind, prompting Trump to tweet praise of President Vladimir Putin, whom he called “very smart”.
The Washington Post also reported on Friday that Moscow could be behind malware found on a laptop owned by a Vermont electricity utility.
In response to that discovery, Vermont governor Peter Shumlin said: “One of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality of life, economy, health, and safety.”
At Mar-a-Lago, Trump said: “I think it’s unfair if we don’t know. It could be somebody else. I also know things that other people don’t know so we cannot be sure.
“And so I want them to be sure. I think it’s unfair if they don’t know. And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove.
“So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”
Asked what that information included, the president-elect said: “You will find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.” He did not elaborate, although in a statement released on Thursday in response to Obama’s sanctions, he said he would meet intelligence officials.
Trump has long questioned reports of Russian attempts to influence the election in his favour, saying hacks could have been perpetrated by China or lone hackers, and repeated a desire for the country to “move on”.
On Saturday, he went on to say “no computer is safe” from hacking and suggest that using a pen and paper was the most effective way of exchanging information.
“If you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old fashioned way, because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe,” he said.
“I have a boy who’s 10 years old, he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”
Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2016