Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) hammered President Donald Trump during a Senate hearing for promoting a “Russian lie” about their efforts to interfere with the U.S. election.
The Minnesota Democrat questioned FBI counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap and Justice Department national security official Adam Hickey about whether they had reason to doubt the intelligence assessment that Russia attempted to influence the election, and they agreed there was no evidence to question that finding.
“Just last week, the newly minted White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci appeared on CNN and said, quote, ‘Somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it,’ Franken said.
Scaramucci quickly admitted the president had told him that, which made Franken chuckle, and the senator asked Hickey and Priestap if they knew where Trump got that information — which they did not.
“Well, I’ll tell you — President Trump believes that to be true because Vladimir Putin told him so,” Franken said.
The New York Times confirmed Trump told aides that Putin had boasted during their private G-20 meeting that Russian hackers were too sophisticated to be caught — but former FBI director James Comey instead found their actions were “unusually loud” and seemed intended to be detected.
“The president of the United States is taking the word of Vladimir Putin over that of the U.S. intelligence agencies, which demonstrates a stunning lack of confidence in the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Franken said. “The president of the United States then goes on to repeat that Russian lie to the American press and to Mr. Scaramucci, effectively spreading Russia’s misinformation for them.”