In his first major press conference of the year, President-elect Donald Trump said he believes Russia was likely responsible for hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) but stressed it is far from the only adversary targeting the US.
"The US is hacked by everybody – that includes Russia and China, everybody," he said during a much-anticipated meeting with the media in New York on 11 January. When asked about the DNC infiltration, Trump said: "I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries."
Referencing China as a key example, the president-elect pointed to the 2014 breach of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). "I can say that when we lost 22 million names [...] that was something that was extraordinary and probably China," he said.
When discussing hacking, president-elect Trump repeated himself often. One topic that kept returning was a vague and undefined notion of 'hacking defence'.
The incoming commander-in-chief has promised that, within the first 90 days of his administration, a major cybercrime report will be released. "We will be coming up with a major report on hacking defence, how do we stop this new phenomena?" he asked.
"We have much hacking going on and [...] we have some of the greatest computer minds anywhere in the world that we have assembled," he continued. "We are going to put those minds together and we are going to form a defence."
Yet quickly turning the conversation back to the DNC, Trump said it was "totally open" to be hacked. "They did a very poor job, and they could have had hacking defence which we had," he added, neglecting the fact the Democratic group was targeted by a phishing scam.
"We had a great hacking defence at the RNC, that's why we weren't hacked," he claimed. "By the way, we were told they were trying to hack us, but they weren't able to hack. I said 'I want strong hacking defence'. The DNC didn't do that – maybe that's why the country run so badly."
When pressed on his relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the indication he sanctioned hacking operations against America, Trump said: "He shouldn't be doing it, he won't be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I am leading it.
"You will see that. Russia will respect our country more. He shouldn't have done it, I don't believe he will be doing it more now – we have to work something out, but it's not just Russia."
Trump's appearance, the first official press conference since 27 July last year, came a day after Buzzfeed published a shocking – and unverified – report which accused him of "perverted sexual acts" and being part of an "extensive conspiracy" with the Kremlin.
Responding to this, the president-elect branded the publication a "failing pile of garbage."
Trump did not acknowledge other hacks believed to have been managed by Russian intelligence, such as the emails of John Podesta, a close aide to Hillary Clinton. He also made no reference to WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange, who published numerous political leaks last year.