no puppet, you're the puppet

Trump and his surrogates battle establishment politicians over Russian hacking

Rob Carr / Staff

A war of words between the Trump transition team and establishment politicians deepened on Sunday as the two groups sniped at each other from the Sunday morning political talk shows.

During a testy appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus pushed back hard against New York Times and Washington Post reports that the CIA believes the Republican National Committee, which Priebus chairs, had been hacked by the Russian government.

“I don’t know of any employees, on any of their own Gmail accounts, that was hacked. So what I’m trying to tell you is the RNC was not hacked,” Priebus told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who repeatedly pushed Priebus on Trump’s quick dismissal of the CIA assessment.

“The CIA has made this assessment, Donald Trump has so ignored the assessment. Do you not believe Russia was involved? Do you not believe anything that Russia was attempting to infiltrate the U.S. election system in any way, shape or form?” Todd asked. “Here is what I’m saying. Number one, you don’t have a single source — I’ve given you a source specifically, me, who runs the RNC, to say that the RNC was not hacked. You tell me who the specific source on the other side of this that says the RNC was hacked,” Priebus said.

Trump himself called the news of the CIA’s assessment “ridiculous” during an interview with Fox News Sunday, going on to say that he doesn’t need to read the Presidential Daily Briefing every day because “I’m, like, a smart person, OK?”

On CBS’s Face the Nation, Sen. John McCain—part of a group of bipartisan senators calling for an investigation into the alleged Russian hacks—criticized Trump for dismissing the CIA. “Facts are stubborn things,” McCain told host John Dickerson. “Here’s a fact: Vladimir Putin is a thug and a murderer and a killer.”

Also on Face the Nation, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway made clear that Trump isn’t entirely satisfied with the CIA’s work, saying, “He absolutely respects the intelligence community. He’s made clear he’s going to put his own people in there as well.”