President-elect Donald Trump is still denying Russia was involved in influencing the presidential election through hacking, but in telling comments Trump claimed that hacking was fine if it produced positive results for him. Trump pointed to reports that DNC official Donna Brazille had given the Clinton campaign a debate question in advance as evidence of hacking’s benefits.
The White House has strongly condemned Russian interference in the election and there are strong suggestions that Donald Trump and members of his team may have been aware of potential hacking. Intelligence agencies warned about Russian interference in October but Trump dismissed them.
During the campaign, Trump called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails and shortly before the WikiLeaks dump of Clinton aide John Podesta’s emails, Trump ally Rudy Giuliani claimed that something big was coming. This suggests to some commentators that Giuliani and others in the Trump campaign were aware of Russian hacking or possibly even in touch with WikiLeaks and Russia.
If Donald Trump was aware of potential Russian hacking or if members of his team were working with Russia or WikiLeaks, that is a serious breach of public trust. If Trump knew more about Russian involvement than he has revealed, the president-elect could face federal charges.
Trump’s consistent defense of Russia in the face of the CIA’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election has led many to believe he is unwilling or unable to respond adequately to an act of cyber warfare by a country he has praised. Trump’s choice of Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state has also raised concerns about Trump’s links with Russia. Tillerson is very close to Vladimir Putin and has personally profited from ExxonMobil’s relationship with the country.