What the hack?
President Trump on Sunday night said a joint-Cyber Security Unit with Russia has no future, hours after gushing that he and President Vladimir Putin talked about putting an end to election hacking.
Trump began the morning after his G20 Summit return tweeting that he and his Russian counterpart discussed the idea – even though it’s Russia that is suspected of meddling with the 2016 campaign in the first place. He gave Putin a free pass and continued piling blame on Democrats for the election hack.
“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..” Trump wrote in one tweet.
He said now is the time to “move forward in working constructively with Russia” – specifically on cyber hacking, of all things.
“Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded…..and safe. Questions were asked about why the CIA & FBI had to ask the DNC 13 times for their SERVER, and were rejected, still don’t…….have it. Fake News said 17 intel agencies when actually 4 (had to apologize). Why did Obama do NOTHING when he had info before election?” Trump wrote over three tweets.
These are Trump’s most extensive comments yet about his much-anticipated meeting with Putin at G20, and they show his stubborn stance on the election hacking wasn’t influenced by the talk at all.
Trump continued his cyber talk Sunday night and disputed the seriousness of his plan to team up with Russia and combat election meddling.
“The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen,” Trump said, before referencing a Russia-U.S. agreement to de-escalate tensions in Syria. “It can’t – but a ceasefire can, & did!”
Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, rushed to support Trump’s cyber tackle on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
He called the idea “a very significant accomplishment” for Trump.
“I think this is a very important step forward that what we want to make sure is that we coordinate with Russia, that we’re focused on cybersecurity together, that we make sure that they never interfere in any democratic elections or conduct any cybersecurity,” Mnuchin said.
But the initial announcement also drew immediate confusion and criticism from staunch GOP members.
“Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit,'” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who competed with Trump for the GOP nomination, tweeted.
“We have no quarrel with Russia or the Russian people. Problem is with Putin & his oppression, war crimes & interference in our elections,” he added.
Trump has refused to support the conclusion from at least four U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 race, with the apparent aim of giving Trump a boost over Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. A day before meeting Putin, Trump said in Poland he thought Russia hacked the campaign but that “other countries” might have, too. He has never offered any evidence of this.
With Nicole Hensley
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