Trump Top Aide: President-Elect ‘Accepts’ Russia was Behind Hacks

RNC chairman Reince Priebus in 2016

Following a 90-minute intelligence briefing on Russia’s involvement in the cyber-attacks which provided explosive feed to the hacktivist website WikiLeaks, the incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus disclosed president-elect “accepts” the fact that the Russian government was behind the hacks.

He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia, so that’s not the issue,

Priebus said on FoxNews on Sunday.

He also suggested the new administration might take action against Russia for the breach of Democratic Party organizations’ network. The Trump aide failed to say whether the president-elect considered Russia leader Vladimir Putin main sponsor of the hacks.

The Intel Briefing

It is the first time a senior member of Trump’s transition team acknowledged Russia sponsored the hacks and orchestrated the WikiLeaks disclosure. Trump dismissed several times the allegations that Russia sponsored the attacks to help him win. He put the blame on either China or an obese hacker lying on his bed.

Analysts explained the GOP has recently added a lot of pressure on Trump with less than two weeks until inauguration day. Republicans advised Trump to accept the findings of the recent intelligence briefing, which suggests Kremlin influenced the presidential election. This week, his fellow Republicans will decide on whether to confirm his Cabinet picks or not.

According to the 14-page report, Russia orchestrated a sophisticated campaign against the Democratic Party in favor of Trump. The campaign also sought the denigration of Trump’s main rival Hillary Clinton. The report, however, found no evidence Russians altered in some way the vote tallies. Intelligence officials, on the other hand, are still investigating the extent of Russian interference.

The president-elect reviewed the briefing on Friday, one day after the intelligence community briefed President Barack Obama on the findings. Shortly after the briefing, Trump issued a public statement in which he noted Russia, China and other state actors are trying to breach the U.S. cyber infrastructure. The NYC billionaire said U.S. business, governmental entities such as the DNC and private organizations are targeted.

Republicans Call for Sanctions against Russia

A spokesperson for Trump’s landing team said Priebus’ remarks are consistent with president-elect’s own comments. Priebus added the real estate tycoon plans to discuss with intelligence officials and find the appropriate course of action.

Action may be taken,

Priebus also said.

Priebus, on the other hand, did not criticize the warming relationships between the U.S. and Russia. In return, other Republican officials criticized Trump’s team cozy relationship with Putin. Two GOP leaders advised Trump to sanction Russia in the wake of the intelligence briefing’s findings. They believe Putin had a personal stake in the efforts to rig the election in Trump’s favor.

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham suggested on NBC that there is enough ‘conclusive’ evidence that the Russian leader was behind the election hacks. Graham noted the president-elect would soon morph into” the defender of the free world and democracy”. So, he must make Russia pay for its actions.

Over the weekend, Trump described U.S.-Russia’s warming relationships as a “good thing”. Devin Nunes, however, advised the new Cabinet to be cautious. Nunes, who serves as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, pointed out three administrations had tried to make friends with Putin and failed.
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