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Trump still harbors doubts about Russian hacking, new White House communications director says

 (Albin Lohr-Jones / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Albin Lohr-Jones / European Pressphoto Agency)

President Trump still isn’t convinced that Russia meddled in last year’s presidential election, his new communications director says, despite the conclusions of the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.

Anthony Scaramucci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that an unidentified person had recently told him that if the Kremlin had in fact interfered, the United States would not have been able to detect the activity.

Pressed as to the identity of the person holding that opinion, Scaramucci said it was Trump.

“He called me from Air Force One,” said Scaramucci. “And he basically said to me, 'Hey, you know, this is — maybe they did it. Maybe they didn’t do it.'” 

The U.S. intelligence community stated definitively in January that Russia was behind attempts to hack Democratic Party emails and influence the election in Trump’s favor.

Whether his campaign aides colluded in that effort is the subject of a widening criminal investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as well as multiple inquiries in Congress.

Scaramucci, a former Wall Street hedge fund magnate who was named to Trump's staff on Friday, said he has not yet obtained a security clearance to see classified information.

He said if he sees information in the future that convinced him that Russia had meddled in the election, he would not hesitate to tell the president.

In a series of Sunday talk show appearances, Scaramucci was also asked if Trump might pardon himself and family members and other associates if they were suspected of or found to have taken part in illegal activities. The president raised the issue Saturday in a statement on Twitter that he had an absolute right to issue pardons. 

Asked on CNN if Trump was thinking of pardoning himself, Scaramucci called that a “another one of those stupid hypotheticals.”

“He’s not going to have to pardon himself because he’s done absolutely nothing wrong,” he said.

A senior member of Trump’s personal legal team, Jay Sekulow, made a similar assertion.

Sekulow, interviewed on ABC’s “This Week,” said the issue of a presidential self-pardon has “never been adjudicated” in court because no president has ever issued one.

But he said that was irrelevant.

“Pardons are not on the table … there’s nothing to pardon from,” he said.

 

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