-Anietie Udobit,agency reports
Vladimir Putin reportedly told Donald Trump that if Russian hackers had infiltrated Democratic groups, they would have been too good to have been detected. And now the President is making the same claims, the White House has admitted.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Putin told the US President during their G20 meeting that “Moscow’s cyber operators are so good at covert computer-network operations that if they had dipped into the Democratic National Committee’s systems, they would not have been caught.”
It is unclear when the statement was made, but the two leaders held an official meeting over two hours with just two translators, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson present.
It was later reported that Mr Trump and Mr Putin met for an additional hour during a G20 state dinner after the official meeting. Mr Lavrov said given the nature of such a summit, they could have met several more times informally.
Since then Mr Trump has shared the claims on Russia’s hacking capabilities with his team, his communications director Anthony Scaramucci said.
During a CNN interview on Sunday, Mr Scaramucci told Jake Tapper that “someone” had told him Russian hackers were too good to be detected. “You know, somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it,” Mr Scaramucci told Mr Tapper.
“You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they’re super confident in their deception skills and hacking.”
When Mr Tapper questioned who his source was, Mr Scaramucci admitted that it was Mr Trump.
“How about it was — how about it was the President, Jake?” Mr Scaramucci said. “I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One. And he basically said to me, ‘Hey, you know, this is – maybe they did it. Maybe they didn’t do it’.”
Several US intelligence agencies concluded in a report that the Russian-backed hackers targeted the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails in an effort to help Mr Trump get elected.
The President has repeatedly dismissed the claims as part of a supposed “witch hunt” against him but the FBI, Congress, and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller are investigating the Trump campaign team’s alleged ties to Russian officials.
Mr Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner has already testified in a closed session in front of the Senate intelligence committee. Donald Trump Jr and former campaign manager Paul Manafort are set to testify later this week.
All three were involved in a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Mr Kushner had initially failed to disclose the meeting in his paperwork to obtain security clearance as well as up to $51m in assets. He claims that he was only at the meeting briefly, asking his assistant to call him to give him an excuse to leave it.
Mr Trump Jr admitted in a statement that the meeting was not strictly about the Magnitsky Act, a US law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers but was taken in an effort to gain information Ms Veselnitskaya’s go-between said she had about Ms Clinton’s supposed financial ties to Russia.
Administration aides have said it was all in the course of campaign work done as “opposition research”.
– [The Independent]