AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
White House press secretary Josh Earnest suggested that President-elect Donald Trump had advance knowledge of Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election before Election Day.
Earnest made the comments while addressing journalists on Wednesday, pointing to Trump’s own statements he made on the campaign trail.
During a press conference in July, Trump commented on the private email server Hillary Clinton used during her time as secretary of state. That server and the thousands of emails that flowed through it were the subject of a yearlong FBI investigation.
Following a line of attack he often employed at his campaign rallies, Trump questioned Clinton’s motive for discarding thousands of emails that were deemed to be personal and unrelated to government business. In an unprecedented move, Trump then directly appealed to Russia, live on-air:
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing … I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be nice,” Trump said.
Here’s video of Trump’s appeal:
Trump and his surrogates have scoffed at the notion that Russia may have meddled in the US election. Nevertheless, there is growing bipartisan support for a full accounting of the matter.
In a CNN interview on Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina accused Russian hackers of breaking into his campaign accounts while he was running in the GOP primary. He said Russia should face “crippling sanctions” as a result.
A group of electors within the Electoral College have also requested a briefing on Russia’s alleged interference. The group meets on December 19 to officially certify the results of the election.