White House press secretary Josh Earnest accused President-elect Donald Trump and top members of his team of having “lucrative” ties with Russia, and accused Trump of asking Russia to hack the DNC. He also pointed out that his national security adviser was a “paid contributor” on RT.
Earnest made the accusations against Trump at the daily briefing on Monday, connecting fabricated dots from what he called “malicious Russian cyber activity,”
“It was the president-elect who refused to disclose his financial connections to Russia,” said Earnest. “It was the president-elect who hired a campaign chairman with extensive, lucrative, personal financial ties to Russia. It was the president-elect who had national security adviser on the campaign that had been a paid contributor to RT, the Russian propaganda outlet.”
Earnest also implied that Trump “benefited” from cyberattacks on Hillary Clinton while “his campaign did not make any effort to obscure this,” and accused Trump of turning a blind eye to Russia’s “attempt to destabilize our political system,” but even ordering Moscow to attack Hillary Clinton, RT reported.advertisement - story continues below
“The president-elect did not call it into question. He called on Russia to hack his opponent. He called on Russia to hack Secretary Clinton,” Earnest said, offering no evidence that would prove his claims. “He certainly had a pretty good sense of whose side this activity was coming down on.
Trump has been under the Democrats’ suspicion since DNC emails were leaked in July, exposing a bias against Bernie Sanders during the primary. Clinton supporters suggested that cyber attacks were masterminded by Russia to help Trump win, and they have requested FBI Director James Comey investigate links between Trump and Russia concerning the leak.
In September, Clinton personally accused Trump of inviting “Putin to hack into the Americans,” when the two squared off in the presidential debates.advertisement - story continues below
While Earnest did not name any names, it was clear which officials close to the president-elect he was referring to. The “campaign chairman” with ties to Russia meant Paul Manafort, once linked to Ukraine’s former government.
Manafort made headlines that past August, when Ukraine’s current government accused him of having pocketed more than $12 million as a lobbyist and consultant for the “pro-Russian regime.” He worked for a company founded by Tony Podesta – brother of John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff and campaign chairman for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The second person Earnest brought up is retired Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and currently Trump’s pick for the post of national security adviser.
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“General Flynn, to my knowledge, was never paid to be on my show. I can tell you that,” host Ed Schultz has said. “I think this is again the very sad road the White House is going down.”
Schultz has pointed to the former chairwoman of the DNC, Donna Brazile, and her relationship with CNN. Another example is Obama’s former adviser Van Jones, who is also a CNN political contributor.
“The White House is forgetting the connection that Donna Brazile has to CNN or what Van Jones was to the Obama administration getting paid by CNN. You can easily discredit someone if you wanna follow the money,” Schultz said.
RT’s Press Office has issued an official comment on the matter, saying that it is “amazed at the misinformation” given by White House press secretary.
“At no time has General Michael Flynn ever been a paid contributor to RT. General Flynn has appeared as a guest on our award-winning news network, alongside many international experts who respond to our invitation to share their views,” the statement added.
Since October, the White House has been accusing Russia of cyberattacks on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to interfere with US presidential elections.
Last week, an intelligence source told the Washington Post that a secret assessment by the CIA concluded that Russian intelligence hacked the servers of the Democratic camp and its leaders to specifically help Trump snatch the post.
The president-elect called such the implication “ridiculous.”
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it,” he told Fox News.
— RT (@RT_com) December 12, 2016
At the same time, former US Ambassador John Bolton Hacking has also suggested that “this hacking into the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and the RNC [Republican National Committee]” may have been the result of a false flag operation carried out by the Obama administration.
The RNC has denied that there have been any cyberattacks on its servers.