President-elect Donald Trump dismissed a congressional panel’s suggestion that Russia ― and perhaps even Vladimir Putin himself ― should be sanctioned for interfering in the U.S. elections, telling reporters Wednesday that the real culprit isn’t the Russian president or his hackers. It’s computers and technology. He also said it’s time people move on.
Trump has rejected the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian hackers took information from Democratic Party computers and individuals and posted it online to help him win the election.
The President-elect was at his Mar-a-Lago resort, standing next to boxing promoter Don King and was asked by reporters if the United States should sanction Russia over the cyber-attack.
“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” Trump replied, according to a Huffington Post report.
But U.S. intelligence agencies have been clear in saying that they have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. The FBI, CIA and the director of national intelligence have agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Intelligence officials also recently told NBC News that they have “a high level of confidence” that Putin himself was involved in the covert operation.
The Obama administration plans to announce today a series of retaliatory measures against Russia for hacking into U.S. political institutions and individuals and leaking information, two U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
“There will be bipartisan sanctions coming that will hit Russia hard, particularly Putin as an individual,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday.
When asked directly about Graham’s suggestion about sanctions on Putin, Trump replied Wednesday, “I don’t know what he’s doing. I haven’t spoken to Sen. Graham. As you know, he ran against me.”
Although a bipartisan group of lawmakers have called for a special select panel to probe cyber-warfare threats from Russia and other U.S. adversaries, including Iran and China, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has blocked the effort, saying that any investigation will stay within the Senate Intelligence Committee.
According to a campaign staffer, Trump rarely, if ever, uses computers, and despite his savviness with social media, it’s not clear he understands much about how they work.