Senior Senate Republicans say Russia used cyberattacks to undermine American democracy, yet incoming White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Sunday argued that there is plenty of blame to go around for any meddling and its results — starting with Democrats, their lack of a winning message and weak cyberdefenses.
“We didn’t need WikiLeaks,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union,” “to convince American voters that they preferred President-elect Donald Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, though her boss frequently cited the online leakers in the homestretch of the campaign.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted Mrs. Clinton to lose the election and clearly preferred Mr. Trump, according to its assessment report released Friday.
Russian intelligence had access to the Democratic National Committee’s network from July 2015 through at least June 2016, and its military intelligence service compromised Democratic Party officials’ email accounts from March to May 2016, the U.S. agencies said.
Russian intelligence then had the information shared through WikiLeaks and other online leakers, the U.S. agencies said.
The report was highly redacted and offered no specific evidence of the hacking, instead reporting conclusions of the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency on their assessments of Moscow’s motives and intentions.
“There were no fireworks in that report because there was no firewall at the DNC,” Mrs. Conway said.
Mr. Trump has contested the U.S. version of events. He also has refused to criticize Mr. Putin, tweeting that only stupid people think it’s a bad idea to have good relationship with Russia going forward.
Nonetheless, Mrs. Conway said Mr. Trump acknowledged the cyberthreat to America in his statement on Friday.
“Read his statement. … He knows that Russia, China and others have tried to attack our institutions,” she told CNN.
But like her boss, Mrs. Conway focused on the the hacked DNC instead of Russia, the accused perpetrator, and said President Obama didn’t help his party allies by offering a weak response to a massive 2015 breach at the Office of Personnel Management that has been blamed on China.
She also said it’s understandable that Democrats would be upset about seeing their dirty laundry aired in public.
“That’s very uncomfortable,” she said.