He refuted reports that Russians hacked the Republican National Committee.
By NICKI ROSSOLL
December 11, 2016, 7:16 PM
• 5 min read
-- Republican National Committee Chairman and incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus pushed back on a New York Times report that the RNC was hacked by Russians, saying that it is "absolutely not true" and even denied an earlier assessment from all 17 intelligence agencies that Russia was seeking to interfere with the U.S. election process.
"We contacted the FBI months ago when the [alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee] issue came about. They reviewed all of our systems. We have hacking-detection systems in place, and the conclusion was then, as it was again two days ago when we went back to the FBI to ask them about this, that the RNC was not hacked," Priebus said today on ABC News' "This Week."
The Washington Post and The New York Times in separate reports late Friday said the CIA presented evidence to some government officials that Russia sought through hacking to help Trump win. The New York Times reported that intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russians hacked into both the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee’s internal communications but released only information they obtained from the Democratic committee in an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the Clinton campaign and the presidential election as a whole.
But Priebus told ABC's George Stephanopoulos today that the report pertaining to the Republican National Committee "is based on unnamed sources who are perhaps doing something they shouldn't be doing by speaking to reporters or someone talking out of line about something that is absolutely not true."
One person with direct knowledge tells ABC News there is no doubt senior GOP officials were hacked, but that there is no evidence the RNC as an organization was seriously compromised.
Priebus also asserted that a report in October from 17 different U.S. intelligence agencies did not definitively point to Russia as being behind hacks into election-related computer systems.
"They didn’t conclude it was Russia," Priebus told Stephanopoulos.
But a joint statement in October by the Department Of Homeland Security and the office of the director of national intelligence directly names the Russian government. "The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations," the statement reads.
Priebus also said Sunday that whether it was Russia or another country engaged in hacking the accounts of U.S. political institutions, such cyberattacks must be stopped.
"I don’t care if it’s Russia or whoever. They shouldn’t -- we’re going to protect Americans. We don’t want these countries, or whoever else these people are, hacking our country, our parties," Priebus told Stephanopoulos.
The Trump transition team released a statement Friday responding to news reports about Russian hacking by questioning the credibility of U.S. intelligence agencies.
But Priebus told Stephanopoulos that Trump "trusts the CIA."
Priebus also criticized the media for running with the story about the RNC getting hacked.
"It is unbelievable that the press would run with unnamed sources about something, that they agree is inconclusive, but ignore the fact that the people actually involved in the other side of the story are telling you it's not true," Priebus said.