Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE questioned the certainty that Russia was behind the recent hack of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, as Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE slammed Trump's praise for the Kremlin at the first presidential debate of 2016 on Monday night.
“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that hacked into the DNC,” Trump said at the debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
“She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t know. Maybe it was. It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It could also be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
His statement came after Clinton firmly pointed a finger at Russia for recent cyberattacks, raising her eyebrow at Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s no doubt now that Russia has used cyberattacks against all kinds of organizations in our country. I know Donald is very praiseworthy of Vladimir Putin—” began Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee.
“Wrong,” interrupted Trump, the Republican nominee.
“But Putin is playing a tough, long game here,” Clinton continued.
The public and private intelligence communities nearly unanimously believe that Russia is behind recent attacks on the DNC and other Democratic groups.
Intelligence officials reportedly notified members of Congress that Russia was looking to hack the DNC as early as a year before the organization noticed the hack of its emails.
After the hack was announced, CrowdStrike, who the DNC hired to investigate the breach, determined that two different groups previously determined to be Russian intelligence were behind the attack. They did this through matching methods, as well as command and control servers used in other attacks.
Other security firms came to the same conclusion even after uncovering new evidence — such as the same email account being used to set up fake websites for phishing attacks against the Democratic Party also being used to set up websites used for phishing attacks against the German parliament.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is among the lawmakers who have asked the Obama administration to publicly accuse the Russian government of the attack and to launch some form of retaliation.
The candidates also squared off Monday night over cyber preparedness.
“The United States has much greater capacity, and we are not going to sit idly by and let state actors go after our information,” said Clinton, echoing a public warning that President Obama gave weeks ago when he said the U.S. had “more capacity than anybody.”
Trump disagreed, saying, “We should be better than anyone, and perhaps we are not.”
The two seemed to have different opinions about the ultimate importance of the attack on Democratic groups. Clinton focused on the risks of allowing a foreign power to interfere with domestic elections.
Trump concluded his remarks by saying that while he did not believe there was adequate reason to accuse any specific actor of instigating the attack, there was good that came from it.
“But what did we learn with DNC? We learned that [Sen.] Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Manchin fires warning shot on plan to expand Medicare Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE [I-Vt.] was taken advantage of by your people,” he said, directing his comment to Clinton.