With the ball in his court, White House press secretary Josh Earnest fired back at Kellyanne Conway after she blasted his comments about Russian interference in the election.
Conway, senior aide to President-elect Donald Trump, called out Earnest for telling reporters on Wednesday that Trump not only knew about Russian hacking during the campaign but may have encouraged it. “I guess he’s auditioning to be a political pundit after his job is over soon,” Conway said.
Earnest defended what Conway called a “remarkable” and “breathtaking” claim, telling reporters on Thursday that his initial comment was “just a fact,” the Washington Examiner reported.
“I made the observation yesterday that Mr. Trump was obviously aware of the fact that Russia was engaged in malicious cyberactivity and that that malicious cyberactivity was having a negative impact on his opponent’s campaign and was boosting his,” Earnest said.
“I don’t know exactly what source he was using,” Earnest continued. “He could have been relying on news reports. Maybe somebody on Capitol Hill who had been briefed about this matter had informed him or his team about it. It’s also possible that he consulted with one of his closest aides, Roger Stone, who back in July tweeted: ‘Of course the Russians hacked Hillary Clinton’s email.'”
Although Earnest offered no actual evidence, he stood by his claim that the president-elect was aware of Russia’s activities.
“I don’t know if it was a staff meeting or he had access to a briefing or he was just basing his assessment on a large number of published reports, but Mr. Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyberactivity that was helping him and hurting Secretary Clinton’s campaign,” Earnest said. “These are just facts.”
Earnest also blasted Conway for defending Trump’s remarks during the campaign when he sarcastically suggested Russia should hack Hillary Clinton’s email server.
“I don’t think anybody at the White House thinks it’s funny that an adversary of the U.S. engaged in malicious cyberactivity to destabilize our democracy,” Earnest said. “That’s not a joke. Nobody at the White House thought it was a joke. Nobody in the intelligence community thought it was a joke. I’m not aware of any members of Congress in either party, [who were] briefed on this matter multiple times dating back to the summer, who though it was a joke.”
President-elect Trump called out the White House Press Secretary at an event in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Thursday, criticizing how “this foolish guy” so poorly delivers a message.
“He is so bad, the way he delivers the message.” President-elect Trump calls out WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest pic.twitter.com/vOWaZk54ze
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) December 16, 2016
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