Sean Spicer, the incoming White House communications director, suggested Sunday that President Obama’s imposing Russian sanctions related to email hacking was politically motivated, considering China recently did far worse without punishment.
“Maybe it was; maybe it wasn’t,” Spicer said on ABC’s “This Week.” “China took over a million records. And a White House statement wasn’t even issued. … So there is a question about whether there’s a political retribution here versus a diplomatic response.”
Obama, a Democrat leaving office next month after two terms, has insisted the hacking probe is non-political, saying, “There is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action.”
But he also has made clear his belief that the Russian hacking “create(d) more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign.”
Obama’s announcement Thursday of the sanctions follows the U.S. intelligence community making statements that connect Russia to the hacking and releasing of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the campaign chairman for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Clinton supporters argue that the emails contributed to Clinton’s defeat by Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Spicer insisted several times Sunday that Trump will decide after meeting this week with U.S. intelligence officials about whether Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin were indeed involved.
Meanwhile, he suggested that Americans, including the mainstream media, immediately and overwhelming accepted the assumption about Russia’s involvement without all of the facts.
“Everyone in the media wants to jump forward and make a conclusion based off…anonymous sources that are coming out of the intelligence community,” Spicer said.
He also argued that the Obama administration’s report on the sanctions was supposed to prove Russia’s involvement but instead pointed out lapses in the DNC’s Internet security.
“What this says is that the DNC had a problem with their IT security and people tried to hack it and that (the DNC) needs to do a better job of protecting it,” Spicer said.
He also seemed to suggest that Obama’s punitive actions on Russia were politically motivated, considering their severity and because they’ll be put in Trump’s lap when he takes over the White House in three week.
“You haven’t seen a response like that in modern history for any action,” Spicer said about Obama expelling 35 Russian diplomats and closing separate Russian compounds in Maryland and New York.
He argued that Obama took no known action two years ago when China took the million-plus records that included sensitive data on federal employees including him.
“They sent everyone who had worked in the government a letter saying that you’ll get free monitoring of your credit,” Spicer said. “That’s all they did.”