People stand outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in Washington, Tuesday, June 14, 2016.
Photo by Paul Holston/AP

Team Trump: Blame Democrats for Russia stealing their documents

According to U.S. intelligence agencies, Russian agents, acting on Vladimir Putin’s orders, stole Democratic materials to be used in a propaganda campaign, all in the hopes of putting Donald Trump in the White House. The latest talking point from Trump World is a doozy: let’s blame Democrats.

Last week, the president-elect said “somebody” launched a cyber-attack on the DNC – Trump still doesn’t like to acknowledge the suspected role of his allies in Moscow – but questioned why Dems did not have a “ ‘hacking defense’ like the RNC” used. Soon after, Trump lamented the DNC’s “careless” technological defenses.

On Friday night, just minutes after Fox News’ Sean Hannity accused the Democratic National Committee of “gross negligence,” Trump tweeted:
“Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place. The Republican National Committee had strong defense!”
Trump alluded to a similar point in his written statement following his intelligence briefing. On “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, the RNC’s Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, insisted the DNC “allowed itself to be hacked” – a point he reiterated four times during the interview.

To the extent that the transition office cares about relevant details, let’s note that U.S. intelligence agencies found that Russia did, in fact, collect stolen materials from “some Republican-affiliated targets,” but Putin’s agents kept under wraps because they wanted to help Trump win.

But even putting these truths aside, for Trump and his allies to blame the victim in this scandal is bonkers. It’s amazing Nixon didn’t try this 45 years ago during Watergate. “Why didn’t the DNC put better locks on their headquarters’ doors?”

A foreign adversary stole American materials to subvert our democracy. The best Trump World can come up with, at least for now, is a talking point that takes aim at Democratic cyber-security.

Here’s a radical thought: if Trump and his team showed a little more interest in criticizing Russia’s suspected role in the attack, and a little less interest in criticizing those Russia stole from, the president-elect’s line in this affair might be easier to take seriously.

Indeed, consider the broader context: when it comes to this scandal, Trump has lashed out at the White House, news organizations, and the DNC, but he seems oddly unconcerned about Vladimir Putin and Russian officials.

I wonder why that is.