Attahiru Jega, a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says if care is not taken, the prediction of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the disintegration of Nigeria will come to pass.
Jega said this on Wednesday while speaking at Tell Magazine’s 20 years of democracy conference in Abuja.
In the buildup to the 2015 election, the CIA had predicted that Nigeria would disintegrate.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan accepted his loss to President Muhammadu Buhari, a move many said averted anarchy.
Speaking at the conference, the former INEC chairman said the country has witnessed some “reversals” in the progress it made during the 2015 elections.
Jega said more work needed to be done to protect the integrity of the country’s electoral process before 2023.
“The CIA thought that 2015 was the do or die period for Nigeria, that there would not be a Nigeria in the way you know after the 2015 general election – that has come to pass, but I think if we do not take care, a lot of these predictions will come to pass that is why we need to do quite a lot, much more than we have ever done in order to protect the integrity of the electoral process before 2023,” he said.
Jega said there is “remarkable” trust deficit by the electorate in the electoral process.
“The clearest evidence of this loss of trust and confidence is declining voter turnout in elections since 1999,” he said.
“For example, people have argued that in 2015 the generalised insecurity was a result of the activities of Boko Haram have been responsible for the low voter turnout regardless of the improvement in the electoral process.
“The postponement of elections both in 2015 and 2019 may be some explanations as to why there was voter turnout.”
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The United States Central Intelligence Agency, CIA has reported using their statelite a very serious development prior to the coming election in Nigeria.
The CIA findings and report read as follows:
“Over the past few weeks we have recorded within the Chad, Niger area a massive movement of mercenary and weapons from our finding we discovered that majority of the thugs and mercenary including the possession of light and heavy weapons where all contracted by personnel in the present Nigerian governments to move into Nigeria for the purpose of aiding electoral malpractices.
We have also opened a satellite watch have been able to record a steady mass movement of thugs and other people to the Northern part of Nigeria. The number of aliens are from the nearby countries sharing boundaries with the Nigerian states in the North. They are Chad, Niger and Sudan. 60 to 65% are from Niger, 20-25% are from Chad and the rest 10-15% are from Sudan.
The CIA hereby warns Nigerian governments including the INEC to take note and avert any ill-practices that will lead to disaster and loss of lives including the peoples’ mandate towards their choices and preferences for leadership. The United States will not accept any action of electoral malpractices geared towards denying the people credible votes and election.
The United States will not hesitate to impose a sanction and visa denial to any perpetrator of any threat to democracy in Nigeria. The United States will monitor vehemently the elections and its outcomes and the people’s mandate must be respected”.
The intelligence memo, part of the just-released files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, provides details from an informant, who told CIA agent codenamed Cimelody-3 that Hitler was alive. The informant, who also happened to be the agent’s friend, added that Phillip Citroen, a former German SS agent, appeared to be in touch with the former Führer in the city of Tunja in Colombia’s Boyacá department.
According to the memo, Citroen said that the Germans residing in Tunja followed Hitler “with an idolatry of the Nazi past, addressing him as ‘der Führer’ and affording him the Nazi salute and storm-trooper adulation.” The memo also shows a picture of “Adolf Schrittelmayor,” signaling that Hitler could have changed his last name.
The picture above shows Citroen sitting next to the alleged Hitler, who committed suicide in a Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945, according to the Allies and virtually every historian. But the CIA document ignites a discussion on whether Hitler managed to escape to South America after the war.
“Citroen also stated Hitler left Colombia for Argentina around January, 1955,” the memo says.
The CIA memos make it clear that the agency was skeptical of the reports, but had to take them seriously. “Neither Chimelody-3 nor this station is in a position to give an intelligent evaluation of the information and it is being forwarded as of possible interest,” reads another page of the memo, dated October 3, 1955.
Argentine writer Abel Basti, author of “Tras Los Pasos de Hitler (After Hitler’s steps),” reconstructed Hitler’s alleged trip across South America, including a months-long stay in Colombia. But the book has been rejected by historians because it lacked evidence, according to Colombia Reports.
Hitler’s fate has been subject to widespread speculation. According to a report by CNN in 2009, Soviet KGB agents burned Hitler’s remains in 1970 and threw them into a river in Germany based on orders by then-chief Yuri Andropov. According to the report, the bodies of Hitler, his companion Eva Braun and the Goebbels family were discovered by the Soviet Army in May 1945.
But such account sparked more doubts. Nick Bellantoni of the University of Connecticut in 2009 analyzed a piece of a skull that Russia claimed it belonged to Hitler, but the scientist confirmed that it rather came from a 20 to-40-year-old woman.
Historians widely believe that Hitler committed suicide by gunshot and cyanide poisoning as the Soviet Army rushed into Berlin in the waning days of the war.
The recent noise over the whereabouts of the leader of the Biafra restoration movement in Nigeria and worldwide, Prince Nnamdi Kanu by the supposed revelation from a former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu who stated recently that Prince Nnamdi Kanu had escaped to London through Malaysia. The former governor also stated that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra [IPOB] had engaged in illicit acts that included robbery and rape of women in Abia State.
However, information recently made available to the US indicates that the former governor may have been angry and/or bitter with the Kanu family following a rebuff by the family when he attempted to reach out to the family to help in persuading Nnamdi Kanu into dropping the Biafra restoration project.
Specifically, Orji Uzor Kanu had visited the home of Nnamdi Kanu on December 27, 2016, to meet with Prince Nnamdi Kanu on the premise that he had a message from the President of the Republic of Nigeria, Major General Mohammadu Buhari.
Orji Uzor Kalu was greeted at the balcony of the house by the father and mother to Prince Nnamdi Kanu in the company of Emmanuel Kanu, the brother. He was not allowed entrance into the main house where Nnamdi Kanu was seated with other guests.
Orji Uzor Kalu proceeded to tell the parents of Nnamdi Kanu that he had the powers to revamp the family and put them on money should they help him in persuading their son to drop the Biafra restoration project. He pointed to his powers as an operative of the CIA [Central Intelligence of America] – and that he had enormous pull in African affairs. He told them that America and the United Kingdom briefed him that there would not be any Biafra.
He pledged to the family that if given audience with Nnamdi Kanu he will arrange for Nnamdi Kanu to meet with the former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja – and that Jonathan can help open up doors of economic opportunities for the entire family.
Orji Uzor Kalu was softly rebuffed and told by the brother to Prince Nnamdi Kanu that the family was not for sale nor were they in the position to compromise the struggle in exchange for money or economic opportunities. The brother told Orji Uzor Kalu that IPOB is bigger than Nnamdi Kanu or anyone in IPOB. So no one can single-handedly collect bribe to compromise the restoration project.
Orji Uzor Kalu departed Kanu’s residence without achieving his objective.
Four months later in April 2017, Orji Uzor Kalu placed a call to the phone belonging to Nnamdi Kanu’s brother, Emmanuel. Orji Uzor Kalu lamented bitterly that the Kanu family was not giving him the leverage he requires to negotiate with the Presidency. He told Emmanuel that he visited Nnamdi Kanu while he was at Kuje prison – and had worked towards achieving his release from prison. But after his release, Orji Uzor Kalu lamented that Nnamdi Kanu abandoned him and decided to give glory to others and not him. He lamented bitterly that Nnamdi Kanu decided not to visit him in the same manner he visited other supposed Igbo leaders.
He was assured by Emmanuel Kanu that Nnamdi Kanu will make out time to visit him in Abuja once the schedule allows. But Nnamdi Kanu could not get around to visiting Orji Uzor Kanu before Orji Uzor Kalu lost patience with the Kanu family.
Orji Uzor Kalu then changed his tactics and immediately went public to vilifying the Kanu family and the Biafra restoration project.
Sources close to the former governor told us he had assured the presidency he had the magic to get the Nnamdi Kanu family to halt the Biafra restoration project. It was alleged that Orji Uzor Kanu was mobilized to the tune of N35billion to embark on the project.
“We are sure he is only trying to impress hiHausasa-Fulani masters”. His recent pronouncement that Nnamdi Kanu had escaped to London comes out of bitterness, failure and desperation, says Emmanuel Kanu.
Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified to whom Edward Snowden released classified government information in 2013. Snowden gave the documents to multiple media outlets.
The crusading website WikiLeaks published thousands of documents Tuesday it says detail CIA tools for hacking into web servers, computers, smartphones and even TVs that can be turned into covert microphones.
The website claims the CIA Center for Cyber Intelligence “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal,” more than several hundred million lines of code that provide “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”
Jake Williams, a security expert with the Georgia-based security firm Rendition Infosec, said the information will be used within days or weeks by hackers and the security firms that combat them.
“My first thought was ‘Wow!’ quickly followed by the realization that this is a treasure trove of information,” he said. “We are regularly dealing with corporations being attacked by nation-state hacking groups. This gives us a lot of insight into how they do it.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer, questioned at a press briefing, declined to comment on the release.
“These (leaks) appear to be very, very serious,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told reporters at a briefing. “We are extremely concerned, and we are following it closely.” The documents indicate developers created programs in homage to popular culture, such as an implant for computers running Microsoft Windows dubbed “RickyBobby” after the Will Ferrell character in the 2006 film Talladega Nights. A trojan spread via thumb drives was named Fight Club, a reference to the 1996 novel and 1999 movie with Brad Pitt. A smart TV project was called Weeping Angel — recurring villains in the Doctor Who series who only move when no one is watching.
The CIA issued a statement declining comment on the “purported” documents. USA TODAY has not yet been able to confirm the authenticity of the documents nor seen anything in them thus far to indicate the tools were used in the U.S. – or at all.
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., called for a congressional investigation in to the details contained in the files. “The potential privacy concerns are mind-boggling,” said Lieu, who has a degree in computer science. “We need to know if the CIA lost control of its hacking tools, who may have those tools, and how do we now protect the privacy of Americans.”
WikiLeaks says the archive appears to have been circulated among former government hackers and contractors, one of whom provided WikiLeaks with portions of it. The website says the CIA hacking division involved “more than 5,000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware.”
“Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook,” WikiLeaks claims. “The CIA had created, in effect, its ‘own NSA’ with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.”
The source of the information, which WikiLeaks did not name, hopes the document dump will initiate “a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons,” the website says.
According to WikiLeaks, Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows and Samsung smart TVs were among CIA targets. The TVs can be placed in a “fake off” mode, so the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on, the documents say. “In ‘fake off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server,” WikiLeaks says.
The notes indicate one of the developers’ major challenges was maintaining an internet connection for long periods of time after the TVs were shut off by owners. There are notes indicating the teams hoped to extend that recording-and-sending time period to last as long as 24 to 72 hours.
At the other end of the technological spectrum, a project appropriately named Pterodactyl set as its goal giving agents a tool to “rapidly copy 3.5 inch floppy disks in a covert manner.” The project appeared to be aimed at a small, easily-concealable device that someone could carry into a space, copy many disks at once and leave with the captured data without the target knowing the disks had been copied.
Microsoft, Google and WhatsApp were among tech firms saying they were looking into the WikiLeaks report. Scott Vernick, a partner with the data security law firm of Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia, said the documents raise the question of whether the CIA shared its tools with the FBI for use in domestic investigations.
Nathan White, senior legislative manager at the nonprofit advocacy group Access Now, said the documents show the need for limits on government hacking and protection of human rights.
“Our digital security has been compromised because the CIA has been stockpiling vulnerabilities rather than working with companies to patch them,” White said.
Wikileaks released thousands of hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of last year’s presidential election, in a cyber attack the U.S. intelligence community concluded was carried out by Russia in an attempt to interfere in the race. Wikileaks has denied getting the emails from Russia, which also refuted any involvement in the hacking.
Edward Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia after his own release of classified government documents to multiple media outlets in 2013, tweeted the documents show the government developed vulnerabilities in U.S. products and left them there. “Reckless beyond words,” Snowden added.
Timothy Carone, a Notre Dame professor who specializes in data science, says the release reinforces the idea that all information in our lives can be acquired and leveraged in ways most people don’t even think about.
“Probably the most disturbing part of the story was that this information was being shared between former U.S. government hackers and contractors with no oversights and no authorization,” he said.
WikiLeaks has conducted a global crusade to expose government secrets through a series of controversial and sometimes embarrassing document dumps in recent years. Chelsea Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents through the WikiLeaks website, is scheduled for release in May after more than six years in prison.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault, and the United States, where he fears possible espionage charges.
Contributing: Nick Penzenstadler, Elizabeth Weise, Brad Heath and John Kelly
WikiLeaks published thousands of documents Tuesday it described as the CIA’s hacking arsenal in what the website called the “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.”
Wikileaks said the document dump from the CIA Center for Cyber Intelligence represents a new series of leaks it had code-named “Vault 7.” The website says the CIA “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal,” more than several hundred million lines of code, providing “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”
Wikileaks says the archive appears to have been circulated among former government hackers and contractors, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.The covert hacking program taps into Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which can be turned into covert microphones, the website says.
“By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware,” Wikileaks said in a statement on its website. “Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook.
“The CIA had created, in effect, its ‘own NSA’ with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.”
The CIA did not immediately return a call for comment from USA TODAY.
Wikileaks has conducted a global crusade to expose government secrets through a series of controversial document dumps in recent years. One led to the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, who has spent six years behind bars or leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents through the WikiLeaks website.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault, and the United States, where he fears possible espionage charges. (USA Today)
Former CIA director R. James Woolsey Jr., a veteran of four presidential administrations and one of the nation’s leading intelligence experts, resigned Thursday from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team because of growing tensions over Trump’s vision for intelligence agencies.
Woolsey’s resignation as a Trump senior adviser comes amid frustrations over the incoming administration’s national security plans and Trump’s public comments undermining the intelligence community.
“Effective immediately, Ambassador Woolsey is no longer a Senior Advisor to President-Elect Trump or the Transition. He wishes the President-Elect and his Administration great success in their time in office,” Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Woolsey, said in a statement.
People close to Woolsey said that he had been excluded in recent weeks from discussions on intelligence matters with Trump and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the incoming White House national security adviser. They said that Woolsey had grown increasingly uncomfortable lending his name and credibility to the transition team without being consulted. Woolsey was taken aback by this week’s reports that Trump is considering revamping the country’s intelligence framework, said these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly.
“Jim is very uncomfortable being considered an adviser in an area where one might consider him an expert when he is not involved in the discussions,” one person close to Woolsey said. “To be called ‘senior adviser’ and your opinion is not sought is something he cannot handle.”
Trump transition officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Woolsey’s resignation.
Woolsey has been a key player in the national security firmament since the late 1970s, when he served as undersecretary of the Navy in the Jimmy Carter administration. He has held other roles under former presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, culminating with the post as director of the CIA between 1993 and 1995.
The person close to Woolsey described him as having chafed at Trump’s loose style on Twitter. They described Woolsey as a “very principled” diplomat who takes care to communicate the right message with just the right words. “This is a guy [for whom] commas, periods, etc., all have special meaning,” this person said.
Woolsey joined the Trump campaign last September, issuing a statement commending Trump’s plans to grow and modernize the military.
“Mr. Trump understands the magnitude of the threats we face,” he said in the statement. (The Washington Post)
Just hours after the Russian foreign minster said he was recommending a symmetrical response, Putin said his country had “every right” to make such a move but that he would not “drop to this level of irresponsible diplomacy”.
He said his government would instead wait to see how relations developed under the incoming president, Donald Trump.
“We will make further steps to help resurrect Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of Trump will pursue,” the Russian president said in a statement on the Kremlin’s website.
Putin, mindful that Trump will be in the White House in just three weeks went on, in an almost teasing way, to wish Barack Obama and his family, Trump and the American people a happy new year. He invited “all the children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas celebrations in the Kremlin”.
His stance was pointedly welcomed by the president-elect.
Putin’s pointedly magnanimous intervention came after a day in which Russian officials launched increasingly angry invective at Barack Obama and his administration.
On Thursday, the outgoing US administration had announced a package of measures targeting Russia in retaliation for cyber-attacks US intelligence agencies believe were directed by Moscow to help Trump get elected. Russian officials have repeatedly denied the claims.
Maria Zakharova, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, launched a stinging attack on the outgoing US administration, writing on Facebook: “The people who have spent eight years in the White House are not an administration – they are a group of foreign policy losers, embittered and shortsighted. Today, Obama officially proved this.”
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, wrote on Facebook: “It is regrettable that the Obama administration, which started out by restoring our ties, is ending its term in an anti-Russia agony. RIP.” The Russian embassy in London tweeted a picture of a duck with the word “lame” written on it, and called the Obama administration “hapless”.
But Putin’s response was surprisingly measured. He said any Russian retaliation would be postponed in the hope that bilateral relations improve when Trump takes office in January.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin holds a sword during a meeting with the “Viking” film crew, as film producer and Director General of Channel One Russia Konstantin Ernst (R) looks on, in Moscow, Russia December 30, 2016. Sputnik/Mikhail…
Diplomatic expulsions are normally met with reciprocal action, and the stage seemed set for a strong Russian response. In 2001, the George W Bush administration expelled 51 Russian diplomats it said were spies. Russia responded by telling 50 US diplomats to leave Russia.
“Reciprocity is the law in diplomacy and international relations,” Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said before Putin’s statement. Lavrov said he was recommending that Putin order the expulsion of 31 diplomats from the US embassy in Moscow and four from the consulate in St Petersburg.
Lavrov also suggested Russia would cut off the use of a warehouse in Moscow and an embassy dacha on the outskirts of the Russian capital, in response to US moves to deny Russia access to two recreational compounds in the US.
However, Putin said this too would not happen for now. “We are not going to make problems for American diplomats. We are not going to expel anyone. We are not going to forbid their families and children from using their usual relaxation places during the new year’s holidays,” Putin said.
Russian officials were widely quoted praising Putin’s “wise” move and hoping for better relations under a Trump presidency. Sergei Zheleznyak, an MP and member of the foreign affairs committee, called Obama a “bad Santa” and said he wanted to “ruin the holiday period for lots of people”.
Russia plans to send a special government plane to the US to pick up the diplomats affected by the US expulsion order. Earlier, a diplomatic source told Interfax that many of those affected were struggling to find tickets back to Russia as planes were full because of the holidays. The foreign ministry said 96 Russians, including the 35 diplomats and their family members, were being forced to leave the US.
US intelligence services believe Russia ordered cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organisations, in an attempt to influence the election in favour of Trump. Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, has been at the centre of the accusations.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who now lives in Russia, wrote on Twitter that the evidence against the country released so far was insufficiently persuasive and called on US authorities to release more.
“Few techs doubt that Russians could have a hand in hacks, but public policy requires public evidence. Trump can’t roll back declassification,” wrote Snowden.
While denying accusations of interference, Putin claimed last week to have always known Trump would win.
“Nobody believed he’d win. Except us, of course. We always believed,” he said, during his annual press conference. Putin has praised Trump and expressed cautious optimism that relations could improve when he enters the White House.
Trump will now have to decide how to calibrate his Russia policy when he enters the White House. He has previously brushed off criticism over his fawning attitude towards Putin, and his tone was not changed by the recent US intelligence assessments of interference.
In a statement earlier this month, Trump said he had received a “very nice letter” from Putin wishing him a happy Christmas, and said Putin’s “thoughts are so correct” on the need to improve bilateral relations. Trump has also voiced approval of Russia’s intervention in Syria.
He added, however, that “in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation”.
Timeline of protests and exclusions
Thursday’s expulsion is the latest in a long line of diplomatic incidents between Russia and the US since the turn of the millennium.
Washington complains to Moscow after two US diplomats allegedly have their drinks spiked with date-rape drugs while attending a UN anti-corruption convention in St Petersburg.
Two Russian officials are expelled in retaliation for what the State Department says was an attack on an US diplomat in Moscow by a Russian police officer. Washington says it is the latest incident in an escalating campaign of harassment against US embassy staff “in an effort to disrupt our diplomatic and consular operations”. Russia in turn expels two US citizens, including the man who was attacked.
The US claims to have cracked a clandestine Russian spy ring based in New York. Two accused men, protected by diplomatic immunity, leave the US and a third is arrested.
The US and other world leaders decide to exclude Russia from the G8 following its annexation of Crimea. The Russian foreign ministry says the country does not “see a great misfortune” in the expulsion.
Russia expels a US embassy employee, Ryan Fogle, days after parading him on state TV claiming he was a CIA spy who had been trying to recruit a Russian counter-terrorism officer.
Days later, the FSB names a man it says is the CIA station chief in Moscow, in what appears to be a calculated snub to Washington, weeks after the two countries agreed to share intelligence over the Boston marathon bombers, who had roots in Russia’s north Caucasus region.
An anonymous FSB officer reveals in May that four months earlier, in January 2013, Moscow had expelled a suspected spy working undercover at the US embassy.
Ten people living in the north-eastern US are arrested and charged as “sleeper” spies, who had assumed deep-cover identities on long-term assignments for the Russian intelligence agencies. Among them is Anna Chapman, who gained British citizenship when she was married to a Briton. This was later revoked. All plead guilty to conspiracy and they are handed over to Russia in exchange for four alleged double-agents in a prisoner swap on the tarmac at Vienna airport.
Washington expels 50 Russian diplomats following the arrest in a Virginia suburb of Robert Hanssen, an FBI intelligence officer accused and later convicted of acting as a double agent for Moscow for 15 years. Moscow retaliates by expelling a similar number of US citizens. (The Guardian)
President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday played down the ramifications of any Russian interference in the U.S. election, saying it is “time for the country to move on to bigger and better things” in a statement issued just hours after President Obama announced sweeping sanctions against Moscow.
Trump, who has for weeks voiced skepticism about Russia’s role in the hacking of Democratic email accounts and other hostile actions, said he would seek to learn more about the situation next week.
“Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation,” the president-elect said in his statement.
Trump’s posture put him at odds with Republican congressional leaders, who have condemned Russia for its actions, with some suggesting tougher measures than what Obama detailed Thursday afternoon. The president’s retaliation included the removal of 35 Russian government officials and sanctions against state agencies and individuals tied to the hacks.
The FBI and the CIA have concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Trump win the White House in his race against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The hacks targeted the Democratic National Committee and the account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, among others.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday night at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., Trump sought to distance himself from Obama’s expected punishment of Russia, saying, “I think we ought to get on with our lives.”
During a conference call with reporters Thursday morning, Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, said Trump’s views could change if more solid evidence emerges that Russia was responsible.
“If the United States has clear proof of anyone interfering with our elections, we should make that known,” Spicer said, adding: “Right now we need to see further facts.”
But Spicer said there is also another aspect to the talk about Russia influencing the presidential election.
“I think you have a lot of folks on the left who continue to undermine the legitimacy of his win and the nature of how big that win was,” Spicer said. He called that behavior “unfortunate.”
Later Thursday, in an interview with CNN, Spicer suggested that the DNC was partly to blame for being hacked.
“At some point, the question hasn’t even been asked of the [Democratic National Committee]: Did you take basic measures to protect the data that was on there?” said Spicer, who spoke shortly before the Obama administration announced its actions. “Where’s the responsibility of them to protect their systems?” (The Washington Post)