President-elect Donald Trump responded to assertions that the Democratic National Committee withholds access to its email servers and refused to fully cooperate with FBI investigators looking into email leaks. Trump wrote, “The Democratic National Committee would not allow the FBI to study or see its computer info after it was supposedly hacked by Russia. So how and why are they so sure about hacking? What is going on?”

Trump told the New York Times today the current media focus is no more than a “political witch hunt” by persons who oppose him and his electoral victory. “They are very embarrassed about it. To some extent, it’s a witch hunt. They just focus on this,” he said. He added that the U.S. is “like the hacking capital of the world,” and that many hacks go unreported.
In recent years, several other severe hacks were not so widely questioned or politicized. For example, North Korea is suspected of hacking data from Sony Pictures. The data included personal information about Sony Pictures employees and their families, e-mails between employees, information about executive salaries at the company, copies of then-unreleased Sony films, and other information. Also, China is suspected of hacking information from the federal government, which included personal information about thousands of government employees. 

On January 5, a former FBI official told the media, despite contentions by the DNC that the FBI has not requested access to DNC servers, the FBI’s requests were rebuffed. A DNC spokesman said that the DNC had several meetings with the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices. He denied that the FBI had ever requested access to the DNC’s computer servers.

Ultimately, because of the DNC’s refusals, Leo Taddeo, a former special agent in charge of the cyber division of the FBI’s New York office, said that the FBI went to a private company to gain information. Taddeo said that the resulting delays prevented the FBI from locating the problem earlier. In other tweets,

 

Trump asked why NBC News was able to get access to a top secret report on the matter that President Obama was presented. He wrote, “How did NBC get ‘an exclusive look into the top secret report he (Obama) was presented?’ Who gave them this report and why? Politics!”

 

Trump also suggested ulterior motives in the current focus on his intelligence briefing and his alleged differences with the intelligence community. Pundits and media have suggested that Trump is somehow in collusion with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who in turn has been connected to the Russian government.

 

Trump tweeted, “The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange - wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!” This week, Trump had drawn attention to Assange’s remark that the DNC emails released by WikiLeaks were not hacked by the Russian government or its allies, or any other government. “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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