Donald Trump's presidential campaign 'was in on Russian election hacking'

He also claimed the President-elect's administration colluded with Wikileaks to discredit Hillary Clinton

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The Independent US

Donald Trump’s campaign team was “in on” Russia’s election hacking, according to the Democrat leader of the US Senate. 

Senator Harry Reid also accused the Republican's camp of colluding with Wikileaks to discredit Hillary Clinton in the run-up to November’s presidential election. 

While he claimed to be unsure whether Mr Trump was aware of any possible collusion, Mr Reid insisted his camp definitely would have been. 

Speaking of intelligence connecting Russian operatives and the Trump campaign, he told The Huffington Post: “Someone in the Trump campaign organization was in on the deal. I have no doubt. 

“Now, whether they told [Trump] or not, I don’t know. I assume they did. But there is no question about that. So there is collusion there, clearly.”

He also urged Americans not to “put blindfolds on”, referring to the possibility of outside involvement in the election result. 

“Don’t put blindfolds on. Here is the deal: We have a situation where during the campaign, especially the last few months of the campaign, WikiLeaks was heavily involved in trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and it helped Trump,” he said. 

“And you have Trump who said he likes Putin better than he likes Obama.”

However, WikiLeaks rejected Mr Reid’s accusations.

“WikiLeaks is an independent media organization entirely funded by its readers. The statement is false. Congress should start an immediate inquiry into the interference by the CIA in US domestic politics,” a spokesperson told The Huffington Post. 

Mr Reid spoke ahead of the Electoral College vote on 19 December that will see members formally cast their ballots for president. 

He called their responsibility “tremendous” and urged them to “be fair.

“What I say to somebody that is pledged to Donald Trump is, ‘Be fair. Be fair.' This is a tremendous responsibility that you have to do the right thing,” he said. 

While Mr Reid conceded the likelihood of electors rejecting Mr Trump was slim, he claimed the latest revelations of Russian interference were an important new element to be considered. 

After the shock election result, which saw Mr Trump win the electoral college despite Ms Clinton's victory in the popular vote, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) concluded that Russia’s release of Ms Clinton campaign’s hacked emails served to bolster Mr Trump’s presidential candidacy.

However, Mr Trump refuted the claim. 

Mr Reid said he pushed for Republican leaders of the Senate to make any possible link public, however his efforts were unsuccessful. 

While he didn't accuse Russia of swinging the election result, he did blame those capable of exposing any potential ties for not making them public. 

He claimed to have written a request to FBI director James Comey in August to investigate Russia’s involvement in the hacking of Democratic National Committee and the possibility it infiltrated election systems. 

“Obviously, what I didn’t know was that Comey was a front for the Republican Party,” Mr Reid said.

The Independent has approached WikiLeaks and the Trump administration for comment.