Russia’s foreign minister said it’s “flattering” to be the suspect in campaign-season hackings of the DNC and other entities allied with Hillary Clinton, while President Vladimir Putin insisted it’s less important how the hacked materials were attained and more important that they were released.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Homeland Security declared in a joint statement last week that the 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.”
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement said in part.
“Does it even matter who hacked this data from the campaign headquarters of Mrs. Clinton? Is that really important? The important thing is the content that was given to the public,” Putin told Bloomberg. “That it was a public service.”
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told CNN International that “it’s flattering of course to get this kind of attention.”
“For a regional power, as President Obama called us some time ago now, everybody in the United States is saying that it is Russia, which is running the…presidential debate. It’s flattering, as I said, but it has nothing, you know, to be explained by the facts,” Lavrov said.
“We have, we have not seen a single fact, a single proof and we have not seen any answer to the proposal which one year ago, almost one year ago — November 2015, the Russian prosecutor-general’s office, conveyed to the Department of Justice, to start professional consultations on cyber crime.”
Last month, Russia’s UN ambassador stumped for Trump at the world body, complaining about the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights’ speech in which he blasted nationalist populists like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage for using “tactics similar” to ISIS to frighten and reel in followers.
“The proposition of recovering a supposedly perfect past is fiction; its merchants are cheats,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, singling out Dutch politician Geert Wilders and “the populists, demagogues and political fantasists” like him. Wilders came to the GOP convention in July to back Trump.
“What we told [Amabassador] Vitaly Churkin to convey to the secretary-general was exactly what I’m telling you now, that it was totally inappropriate for high commissioner for refugees to go well beyond his mandate, which is not — which not passing judgment without any investigation into one way or another a political personality, period,” Lavrov explained.
Lavrov said he “cannot comment on what is going on in the United Nations presidential campaign,” before being corrected to the U.S. campaign. “United States presidential campaign — I’m sorry.”
The White House has promised a “proportional” response to the Russian hacking, but it may remain a secret.
“The kind of proportional response that the president would consider is not necessarily the kind of response that we would announce in advance, or maybe even announce ever,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.
“So the president will consider a range of options in terms of determining what is appropriate or proportional,” he added. “But what we surely will do is deploy all the necessary resources to protect our system, and to prevent the Russians from succeeding in their attempt to undermine our political system and undermine our political process.”
Lavrov said “it’s not worth, I believe, speculating” what that response might be.
“If they decided to do something, let them do it,” he said. “But to say that Russia is interfering in the United States domestic matters is ridiculous.”