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It would appear there will continue to be an ongoing debate about just whether or not Russia influenced the 2016 election to benefit President-elect Donald Trump. The intelligence report, which Trump was briefed on Friday, offered the conclusion that Russia tried to do just that by mounting an "influence campaign" to undermine Hillary Clinton. It is less clear that the campaign succeeded.
Former campaign manager and current special adviser to Trump, Kellyanne Conway, went on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday and was grilled fairly thoroughly by host Jake Tapper on the role Russia played in the election. Tapper was specifically interested in the role the WikiLeaks email dump, which has been linked to Russian foreign intelligence and was responsible for much of the negative press about Clinton, played in influencing the election outcome.
Tapper started things off by asking Trump’s former campaign manager about whether the mogul will admit that Russia launched an active campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton during the election. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper voiced his suspicions of Russia last week, though Conway argued that Clapper said at the time that “any attempt, any aspiration to influence our elections failed.”
Tapper, in an impressive journalistic push, then asked Conway a simple question she found relatively difficult to answer: if WikiLeaks was such a non-player in the election, why did Trump continue to bring it up, over and over, on the stump and during the debates to try to define his opponent's character?
“How can you say that the hacking had no impact on the election,” Tapper asked, “when Mr. Trump kept invoking WikiLeaks which was printing, publishing things that the Russians had hacked?”
Conway responded by telling Tapper that Trump didn't exactly need the Wikileaks emails to defeat Clinton.
Watch the entire exchange below:
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