Donald Trump speaks at a "get-out-the-vote" rally on December 9, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Team Trump blasts Obama White House over hacking scandal claims

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest yesterday reflected on allegations that Russian officials intervened on Donald Trump’s behalf in this year’s presidential campaign – and Trump’s team isn’t pleased about it.

Earnest noted, for example, that Trump “called on Russia to hack his opponent,” which the president’s spokesperson said might be an indication that Trump was aware, “based on whatever facts or sources he had available to him,” that Vladimir Putin’s government was involved in the cyber-attack.

As Politico noted, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News this morning to express her outrage.
“That is just remarkable. That is breathtaking. I guess he’s auditioning to be a political pundit after his job is over soon. That is incredibly disappointing to hear from the podium of the White House press secretary,” she said. “Because he basically – he essentially stated that the president-elect had knowledge of this, maybe even fanned the flames. It’s incredibly irresponsible and I wonder if his boss, president Obama agrees.”
Note, Conway didn’t say Earnest was wrong, only that she finds it “breathtaking” that the White House press secretary made these comments.

The trouble is, on July 27, Trump really did hold a press conference in which he publicly urged Putin’s espionage services to help sabotage the Clinton campaign. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican proposed. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

In response, one veteran of the Bush/Cheney State Department, called Trump’s comments “appalling,” adding, “Trump is legitimating behaviors that nobody ever thought could be legitimated.” A member of George W. Bush’s National Security Council described Trump’s rhetoric as “an assault on the Constitution.” A different former National Security Council official said of Trump’s rhetoric, “Of course it’s a national security threat.” Michael Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency under George W. Bush, called Trump’s comments “incredibly stunning” and “very dangerous.”

But according to Kellyanne Conway, the real outrage – what’s actually “incredibly irresponsible” – is the White House press secretary reminding us of something that’s true and quite relevant under the circumstances.

Conway also told Fox that Americans should be “very concerned” about leaks from the intelligence community about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.

So, if I have this straight, leaks from Russia to WikiLeaks are great, but leaks from the CIA to the American public about a foreign adversary’s cyber-crimes are dangerous? Navigating the Trump team’s talking points isn’t easy.

For his part, Trump himself turned to Twitter this morning to ask, “If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?”

We already know he’s lying. Trump will have to try much harder to make the controversy go away.


Donald Trump and Russia

Team Trump blasts Obama White House over hacking scandal claims