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Trump slams ‘Russian hacking’ in New Year remarks to media

President-elect Donald Trump spoke to reporters briefly on New Year's Eve at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, questioning the official version of "Russians hacking the election", Reuters reported.

Published: January 2, 2017, 12:01 pm

    “It’s a pretty serious charge,” he said. “And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong.”

    Trump said: “I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

    He hinted at “somebody else” who had compromised the Democratic campaign’s servers, adding that he will reveal some previously undisclosed facts in the coming days, adding: “I also know things that other people don’t know.”

    Asked what that information included, the president-elect said: “You will find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.” He did not elaborate, although in a statement released on Thursday in response to Obama’s sanctions, he said he would meet intelligence officials, the Guardian reported.

    “Hopefully we’re going to have great relationships with many countries and that includes Russia and that includes China,” Trump continued in response to anti-Russian sentiments expressed in the media.

    New claims that Russia hacked into the US electricity grid through utility companies in Vermont, based on anonymous “officials”, and published by the leftwing rag, The Washington Post, has meanwhile been exposed as false news.

    The Post had published a damning headline, stating that “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility” posing a risk “to US electrical grid security”.

    The discovery of the malware, first reported Friday, accused Russians of cyber-assaults against the United States that had spread to the electric power supply, one of the nation’s most sensitive potential targets.

    The utility company in question, Burlington Electric, soon issued a statement that a recent scan of its IT systems had found only one laptop with some malware and that the laptop in questions was not connected to its networks at all.

    “While our analysis continues, we currently have no information that indicates that the power grid was penetrated in this cyber incident,” J. Todd Breasseale, DHS’s assistant secretary for public affairs, confirmed to Politico in a statement.

    The newspaper has meanwhile backtracked and now says authorities have no such “indications”. On social media the Post has received widespread condemnation because the outlet promotes “fake news”.

    It appears that the malware might actually be Ukranian.

    Wordfence, also a reputed IT security company, took a detailed look at the samples and tables in the new DHS/FBI “report” and concluded: “The malware sample is old, widely used and appears to be Ukrainian. It has no apparent relationship with Russian intelligence and it would be an indicator of compromise for any website.”

    No evidence of a Russian trace has been released either. Eventually, the Washington Post issued a correction to its article. “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the US electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far,” the statement said.

    The headline, blatantly accusing “Russian hackers” of breaching the US power grid, has remained, though.

    It’s not the first time the Washington Post has had to correct a report containing ill-founded and misleading allegations. On November 24, an article by the newspaper alleged that Russia is in fact behind a massive spread of “fake news” which affected the US presidential campaign in November last year.

    One of the experts cited by the newspaper was a group called PropOrNot, which “identified” over 200 websites as spreading Russian propaganda. Yet the article drew serious criticism from people on social media as well as journalists over PropOrNot’s own dubious credentials.

    Following the victory of the Republican candidate Donald Trump, the Washington Post, citing a CIA report, accused Moscow directly for helped Trump gain the White House.

    The President-elect dismissed the allegations as “ridiculous” labelling them as yet “another excuse” by the Democrats for the implosion of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

    Earlier in the day, after issuing a new year message via Twitter in which he sent love to “my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do”.

    karin@praag.org

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