After repeatedly claiming that Russia did not meddle in the U.S. presidential election, Russian President Vladmir Putin Thursday appeared to pin the interference on “patriotic hackers,” who were akin to “artists” coming to the defense of their home country when it was in peril.
“(Artists) might take action “on behalf of their country, they wake up in good mood and paint things. Same with hackers, they woke up today, read something about the state-to-state relations,” Putin told reporters at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, according to a CNN report. “If they are patriotic, they contribute in a way they think is right, to fight against those who say bad things about Russia.”
The intelligence community has been united in its opinion that Russia did, in fact, attempt to sway the outcome of the American election.
“The Russians used cyber operations against both political parties, including hacking into servers used by the Democratic National Committee and releasing stolen data to WikiLeaks and other media outlets. Russia also collected on certain Republican Party-affiliated targets, but did not release any Republican-related data,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reiterated to a Senate subcommittee in early May.
“The Intelligence Community Assessment concluded first that President Putin directed and influenced campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process. Second, that he did so to demean Secretary Clinton, and third, that he sought to advantage Mr. Trump. These conclusions were reached based on the richness of the information gathered and analyzed and were thoroughly vetted and then approved by the directors of the three agencies and me,” Clapper said.
But at the economic forum, CNN quoted Putin saying Russia doesn’t “do that on government level” but he could “imagine that some purposefully does that, building the chain of these attacks in a way to make it seem that Russia is the source of these attacks. Modern technology allows to do that quite easily.”
He also expressed doubts that hacking could influence the outcome of a campaign. “No hacker can affect an electoral campaign in any country, be it Europe, Asia or America,” he said. “I’m certain that no hackers can influence an electoral campaign in another country. It’s just not going to settle on the voter’s mind, on the nation’s mind.”