President Donald Trump on Thursday morning declined to single out Russia for attempting to interfere in the United States’ 2016 election, arguing that it’s not completely clear that Russia was solely responsible for the hacking attempts.
“I think it was Russia. And I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered,” Trump said at a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia. But I think it could well have been other countries. And I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.”
Rather than going after Russia, Trump hit former President Barack Obama for his delayed response to Russian hacking attempts.
“He did nothing about it,” Trump said of Obama. “They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary was going to win the election, and he said, ‘Let’s not do anything about it.’”
The Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia in December in response to the hacking attempts. A recent Washington Post report indicates that the Obama White House was hesitant to act before the November election due to concerns that it would look like they were interfering on Hillary Clinton’s behalf.
MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson noted to Trump that the U.S. intelligence community agreed that Russia was behind the cyber attacks.
In response, Trump noted that while some media outlets reported that 17 intelligence agencies agreed with that assessment, only four agencies agreed. The President was referencing Wednesday testimony from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said that not all 17 agencies agreed with the assessment. His remarks prompted corrections from the Associated Press and the New York Times.
Trump then reiterated that he’s not convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election.
“I think it was Russia. But I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said.
To back up his skepticism, Trump mentioned the George W. Bush administration claims that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
“When I was sitting back listening about Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction, how everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump said. “They were wrong and it led to a mess.”