Donald Trump's team says more focus should be on ‘punishing’ Hillary Clinton than on Russia election hacking

The incoming press secretary said the media was only focusing on ‘one side of the story’

Rachael Revesz
Sunday 01 January 2017 17:58 GMT
Spicer questioned the ‘magnitude’ of scrutiny on Russia’s alleged involvement
Spicer questioned the ‘magnitude’ of scrutiny on Russia’s alleged involvement (Getty)

Donald Trump’s press secretary claimed there should be more focus on “punishing” Hillary Clinton for her alleged manipulation of the election than on Russia’s alleged undermining of US democracy.

Sean Spicer questioned the “magnitude” of the scrutiny on Russia’s alleged cyber warfare against the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to boost his boss into the White House.

He then attempted to deflect questions on an issue which is gathering bipartisan support by focusing on Mr Trump’s former Democratic rival.

“Why aren’t we talking about Hillary Clinton getting debate questions ahead of time? That’s a pretty valid attempt to influence an election – somebody giving her debate questions and answers before an election,” he said, referring to former CNN commentator and DNC chair, Donna Brazile, allegedly handing over primary season debate questions to the Clinton team.

Mr Spicer said his team was “still getting information” about Russia’s supposed hack under direct orders from Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“When are we going to start talking about the other side of this, which is what did Hillary Clinton do to influence the election? Is she being punished in any way?” asked Mr Spicer.

Mr Trump distanced himself from his campaign “pledge” to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Ms Clinton’s alleged misuse of her personal email server when she was secretary of state, telling reporters he did not want to “hurt” the Clintons.

Mr Trump has persistently cast doubt on the claims about Russia, first saying the claims were “ridiculous” and that he did not believe the CIA report.

He told reporters on New Year’s Eve outside his Mar-a-Lago resort: “if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong”, referring to false information that led the US and the UK to invade Iraq in 2003.

Mr Trump said he would reveal more information about the hack on Tuesday or Wednesday.

“I know a lot about hacking,” he said. “And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

The CIA and the FBI concluded that Russia’s top intelligence agencies carried out an attack on the DNC, which was approved by the Kremlin.

President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia and expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US.

Mr Trump praised the Russian president for not retaliating immediately. His team defended the move, saying the president-elect did not want to be “boxed in” by sanctions.

His incoming secretary of state and oil giant, Rex Tillerson, is a strong opponent of Russian sanctions.

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