Top Dem: Trump hacking comments a 'tremendous gift' to Russia

Top Dem: Trump hacking comments a 'tremendous gift' to Russia

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Sunday dinged Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE’s comments on Russian hacking as “the most tremendous gift to Russian propaganda.”

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Trump claimed during last week’s debate that “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that hacked into the [Democratic National Committee].”

"What Trump has been doing actually has been the most tremendous gift to Russian propaganda by coming out as he did in the debates saying, ‘It could be Russia; it could be China; it could be a 400-pound man’ — that’s exactly what Russia wants,” Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Bannon eyed as key link between White House, Jan. 6 riot MORE (D-Calif.) said on ABC’s “This Week.”

"I have no doubt [this is Russia]. And I don’t think the administration has any doubt,” Schiff continued.

Schiff has been pushing for the White House to publicly attribute the attack to Russia. Public and private intelligence groups are nearly unanimous in their assessment that the breach was the work of Russian intelligence, but the administration has been wary of levying blame.

“It is a question for the administration of: Do they do more than name and shame? What are the repercussions? Are they playing into the Russian hands by sowing doubt?” Schiff acknowledged Sunday.

But, he argued, “the Russians respect one thing, and that’s strength. If they see an open door, that’s an invitation to do more.”

His comments echo widespread frustration among lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who are calling for some response to a spate of hacks on political groups.

But should President Obama publicly point the finger at the Kremlin, it could expose covert intelligence capabilities and damage already-touchy negotiations with Russia over Syria and Ukraine, experts say.

That dynamic reflects one of the central challenges the White House faces in responding to cyberattacks. Without any international rules of engagement, officials must weigh a response to each attack individually.

The FBI has opened an investigation into the hack, but because of the risks, experts say, the public is unlikely to ever know the results, even if the agency is able to prove Russia’s guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Trump remains one of the few not willing to point fingers at Russia for the DNC breach, which led to the resignation of several party figures including former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“[Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSuper PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary MORE is] 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,” Trump said during last Monday's presidential debate.