December 18, 2016
With the Electoral College scheduled to vote Monday, former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta suggested Sunday that President-elect Trump’s campaign may have been involved in Russia’s hacking into his email.
“I would argue that it’s very much unknown whether there was collusion,” Podesta told NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. “I think Russian diplomats have said post-election that they were talking to the Trump campaign.”
Republican officials have denied any collusion with Russia. Trump’s incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday called the suggestion “insane.”
Democrats have been aggressively seeking to portray Trump’s election as the result of Russian interference. Hillary Clinton herself said the Russian hacks contributed to her loss.
Podesta cited Trump friend Roger Stone, who said in August that Podesta’s emails had been hacked and those would be forthcoming, according to a conversation Stone said had taken place between him and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Podesta pointed to Carter Page, a former Trump adviser. Podesta alleged Page traveled to Russia prior to the Republican National Convention to meet with a member of the Russian hierarchy who was responsible for collecting intelligence.
“So I think really not what Mr. Trump knew, but what did Trump Inc. know and when did they know it?” Podesta said, were the questions he still has. “Were they in touch with the Russians? I think those are still open questions.”
Interfering in the U.S. election would benefit Russia because Vladimir Putin’s government was “trying to elect a lapdog,” but it’s “not that Putin and Trump were colluding to affect the election,” Podesta added.
Intelligence officials have leaked information about their conclusions about the cyber attacks, but FBI Director James Comey has yet to publicly state his opinion. Priebus said after government officials make an official statement, then Trump will support the findings, but not while media reports are still citing sources.