During the first presidential debate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump denied that Russian hackers are responsible for breaching Democratic party communications, but officials say he has been briefed on Russian involvement.
Trump bizarrely asserted that some "400 pound" kid sitting at home may actually be responsible, but according to Time he was briefed on the matter during a recent classified intelligence briefing.
[The] U.S. intelligence community has “high confidence” that Russian intelligence services were in fact responsible, multiple intelligence and national security officials tell TIME. Trump was informed of that assessment during a recent classified intelligence briefing, a U.S. official familiar with the matter tells TIME. “I do not comment on information I receive in intelligence briefings, however, nobody knows with definitive certainty that this was in fact Russia,” Trump told TIME in a statement. “It may be, but it may also be China, another country or individual.”
This is not necessarily a surprise given that Trump has previously said that he would not rely on the American intelligence community. That is, after all, why former General Michael Flynn accompanied Trump to his first classified briefing. Flynn is also a big fan of Vladimir Putin and an unhinged critic of the Obama administration and Trump places more faith in him than the intelligence community.
Trump was not required to say anything at all about Russian hacking during the first debate. He did not need to confirm or deny it, but he chose to. He chose to suggest that China or a giant kid may be responsible.