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The many times Donald Trump refused to acknowledge Russia hacked the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda at Royal Castle, in Warsaw, Poland.

In an alternate universe, the U.S. government is discussing a host of cybersecurity reforms to safeguard its electoral system after the Russian government waged a cyber-campaign to swing the election against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In this universe, the United States is led by President Donald Trump, who seems to go out of his way to blame others or downplay Russia’s role in the cyber-campaign. On Thursday in Poland, Trump did it again.

"I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it well could have been other countries and I won’t be specific." That much is clear!

Despite that the CIA, FBI, and NSA all concluded that Russia meddled in the election, Trump continues to deny and obfuscate the facts—and we kept track of every time he did it.


After the Democratic National Committee was hacked in the run-up to the Trump-Clinton presidential debates, Trump said he didn’t believe there had been any hacking at all.

"We believe it was the DNC that did the hacking as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader," Trump said at a campaign rally.

The DNC hack, if you’ll remember, led to the publication of emails meant to sour the public’s relationship with Clinton, who was thought to be a runaway favorite to win the White House.

Image: Justin Lane/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump shake hands at the start of the first presidential debate, at Hofstra University.

Trump voiced skepticism about the Russian government’s involvement in the DNC hack during the first presidential debate between him and Clinton.

“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC," Trump said. He then said "maybe it was," but added, "I mean, it could be Russia. But it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?"


The second presidential debate also featured a Russia denial from the future president.

"[Hillary Clinton] doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking," Trump said. "Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia."


Trump has occasionally resorted to the "who knew this was so hard?!" defense when something doesn’t quite work out like he’d hoped, and in mid-December, after he’d won the presidential election, he tried something similar with news swirling about hackers in Russia.

Unless you catch "hackers" in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn’t this brought up before election?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016

He’s not wrong! But in this case, it’s a little like having DNA evidence and several eyewitness accounts that place a suspect at the scene of a crime, but not charging that suspect because the suspect hasn’t said, "I did the bad thing."


The then president-elect mocked the idea of Russian government hacking in a tweet sent on Jan. 3 about an upcoming meeting with intelligence officials.

The "Intelligence" briefing on so-called "Russian hacking" was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2017

Trump followed up that tweet with another a few hours later in which he uses Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange to make light of the notion that Moscow was behind the attacks.

Julian Assange said "a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta" – why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2017


The Donald didn’t feel much differently after meeting with intelligence officials, either.

In a statement he released following the meeting, Trump again refused to point directly at Moscow.

“While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines," the Trump team wrote in the statement.


Image: JUSTIN LANE/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

During a wild press conference just days before Trump took office, he got about as close as he’s ever gotten to saying the Russian government hacked the DNC and meddled in the 2016 presidential election. "I think it was Russia," Trump said, before adding later that "it could have been others." All things are possible, they say.