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Dem Rep Schiff: Trump Is Damaging His Credibility By Dismissing Russian Hacking

Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” while commenting on President-elect Donald Trump response to Russian hacking, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, “The president-elect, as you know, also said that he knows things that other people don’t know. He needs to stop talking this way. If he’s going to have any credibility as president, he needs to stop talking this way. He needs to stop denigrating the intelligence community.”

Partial transcript as follows:

KARL: So let’s pick up with the Russian hack. You heard from president-elect Trump last night saying he’s still not convinced it’s the Russians. He says hacking is a very hard thing to prove so it could be somebody else. OK. You have been briefed on the intelligence. How solid is the evidence that it was the Russians?

SCHIFF: It’s very solid. It’s indeed overwhelming and the president-elect, as you know, also said that he knows things that other people don’t know. He needs to stop talking this way. If he’s going to have any credibility as president, he needs to stop talking this way. He needs to stop denigrating the intelligence community. He’s going to rely on them. He’s going to have to rely on them.And this is the overwhelming judgment of the intelligence community and, frankly, all of the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, Democrats and Republicans. None of us have any question about this. The only one who does apparently is Donald Trump. And this is the problem. There’s only one thing worse than someone who wins elective office after everyone told them that they would win and that’s someone who wins after everyone told them that they would not because they believe in the infallibility of their own judgment. And this is very dangerous.

KARL: But doesn’t the incoming Trump press secretary have a point here on the response by the Obama administration?

We did have that hack by the Chinese, the OPM attack; this was 22 million federal employees affected. The Obama administration did nothing that we know of publicly.

Why did they do nothing about that huge hack done by China and then this, just on the way out the door, make this big statement about the Russia hack?

SCHIFF: Well, I think what Mr. Spicer fails to appreciate is there was one form of hacking for the purpose of foreign intelligence gathering and that’s what the Chinese did with OPM. They gathered this information about federal employees that they could use for their foreign intelligence purposes.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: That’s a serious offense.

SCHIFF: It’s very serious. All nations gather foreign intelligence information, all nations.

KARL: Steal data?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: And you’re not going to — well, you’re not going to prevent foreign nations from stealing data that they think is in their interest. The best thing you can do is defend against it.

But here’s what’s different about what Russia did. They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it. They dumped it during an election with the specific intent of influencing the outcomes of that election and sowing discord in the United States. That is not something China has ever done. That is not something, frankly, Russia has ever done here, although it has done it in Europe.

And that is a very different situation than the mere stealing of information, as serious as it was in China’s case. And that’s why the administration handled both cases very differently and that makes all the sense in the world.

KARL: Has the Obama administration, though, given something of a gift to the incoming Trump administration on this?

They took measures that perhaps were not all that serious so that the Russians could kind of shrug them off, giving Trump an opportunity to kind of say what’s done has been done and move on?

SCHIFF: If the Trump folks are smart or shrewd politically, they would view it that way. They would say he took care of the reprisals, it didn’t really throw off relations with Russia in terms of how I’m going to start out my presidency. He cleaned the deck for me.

If he’s smart, that’s the view he’ll take. Frankly, though, in Congress, we don’t share that view. We think that more has to be done. We don’t think that frankly the steps that have been taken are enough of a deterrent. And you’re going to see bipartisan support in Congress for stronger sanctions against Russia.

KARL: And if Trump moves to undo what President Obama has done here, what’s going to be the congressional response?

SCHIFF: The reaction is going to be even more vigorous, I’m convinced, in favor of stronger sanctions against Russia. You’re going to see Democrats and Republicans, like McCain and Graham and others, come together with a strong sanctions package because frankly even though what the administration did was more than symbolic, it was very meaningful. It is not enough to deter Russia.

KARL: So if you looked through that FBI report, it is clear that this was not the most sophisticated hack. Basically these Democratic officials opened up suspicious attachments or gave their passwords when asked.

This was — this could have been prevented with a little less carelessness on the part of the Democrats, isn’t that right?

SCHIFF: You know, I’m not sure that that’s right. And certainly there was carelessness and they didn’t follow best practices.

The reality is, if Russia wants to get into a private organization, they’re going to get in. If you launch enough spearfishing attacks, no matter how sophisticated you are, in your defense, an adversary like Russia is going to get in. So much as that might be a good argument for Sean Spicer and others to say, oh, the Democratic Party was negligent —

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: But they were careless.

SCHIFF: — they were careless. But that doesn’t let Russia off the hook. Yes, it got them in the door. But Russia and Putin and the Kremlin, they are the ones that made a decision to dump and weaponize that information.

(h/t The Hill)

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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