Speed Reads

Russian Hacking

Donald Trump, who says WikiLeaks didn't sway the election, discussed WikiLeaks 164 times in closing weeks

On Friday, in its unclassified report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the FBI, NSA, and CIA concluded that Russian President Vladimir "Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him," and that Russian military intelligence "relayed material to WikiLeaks," then "used trolls as well as RT as part of its influence efforts to denigrate Secretary Clinton," an effort that "amplified stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton and the role of WikiLeaks in the election campaign."

Trump was particularly interested in asserting that even if Russia (and "China, other countries, outside groups, and people") did hack Democrats and the Clinton campaign, it didn't affect the election.

In fact, the intelligence agencies said in their report that they "did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election," and that "Russia collected on some Republican-affiliated targets but did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign." In any case, Trump's insistence that the election wasn't affected sort of clashes with his repeated insistence during the campaign that the Russian-fed WikiLeaks leaks should disqualify Clinton.

ThinkProgress took a look and found that Trump publicly mentioned WikiLeaks at least 164 times between Oct. 10 and Election Day, saying things like, "Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn’t it?" (Oct. 26) and "WikiLeaks, some new stuff, some brutal stuff. I mean I'd read it to you but to hell with it trust me it's real bad stuff" (Oct. 10).

On CNN Sunday, Jake Tapper brought this up with Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. "I guess what I'm confused about is how can you say that the hacking had no impact on the election when Mr. Trump kept invoking WikiLeaks, which was printing, publishing things that the Russians had hacked?" he asked. "Obviously he thought it was going to have an effect on the election." Conway said that Trump did not know at the time that Russia was behind the leaks, and "we didn't need WikiLeaks to convince the American people they didn't like" Clinton.