US President-elect Donald Trump "accepts" findings by the intelligence community that Russia embarked on hacking efforts in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election that gave him control over the White House, says his incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
Priebus’s remarks on Fox News on Sunday marked the first time that a senior member of the future president’s team acknowledges that Moscow specifically meddled in the November 8 vote.
"He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia, so that's not the issue," said Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The reality TV star and real estate tycoon had earlier gone as far as describing Russia and China as nemeses that keep targeting the US.
"Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat(ic) National Committee,” he said after receiving an intelligence briefing over the matter on Friday.
Apart from that, Trump has dismissed allegations that efforts by Russia led to his victory on Election Day. Moscow has also denied playing a role in the election process.
Some of the top Republicans, however, continue to believe that the Russian move is tantamount to an act of war.
In the run-up to the 2016 vote, WikiLeaks kept releasing batches of emails from the campaign of Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic National Committee.
Democrats pointed the finger at Russia, an allegation later confirmed by the FBI and the CIA, and dismissed by Moscow ever since.
In a joint analysis issued on Thursday, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided technical details about the tools and cyber infrastructure they said Russian civilian and military intelligence services used for the hack attack, code-named Grizzly Steppe.
The document said the cyber attack was carried out to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the US election, as well as a range of US government, political, and private sector entities.”
The intelligence community said in a declassified report on Friday that Russian President Vladimir "Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”