Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the Russian government has never been involved in hacking, after months of accusations that Russia tried to tip the election to Donald Trump by breaking into and leaking emails from Democrats.
“We don’t engage in that at the state level,” Putin said during a meeting with international news agencies, according to the Associated Press.
Though he denied the Russian state had been involved in hacking, Putin said individual “patriotic” hackers could mount their own attacks.
The Russian president said, “No hackers can influence election campaigns in any country of Europe, Asia, or America.”
Despite Putin’s denial, US intelligence agencies believe someone in Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and an email account belonging to John Podesta. Intelligence officials believe the accounts were hacked in an effort to influence the 2016 election.
President Trump reminded reporters on Thursday morning that the “big story” they should be covering is the “unmasking and surveillance” of people that occurred during the Obama administration.
“The big story is the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ of people that took place during the Obama Administration,” Trump tweeted.
The president didn’t elaborate further, but seemed to be referencing a Wall Street Journal article published Wednesday that revealed the House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas related to its investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Obama administration’s monitoring of Americans.
Four of the subpoenas were related to the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election, and issued to President Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who was fired in February, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer.
The remaining three were connected to reports that members of Trump’s campaign team were identified in foreign surveillance reports and subsequently had their names “unmasked,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Obama administration allegedly monitored people connected with the Trump campaign, and the House Intelligence Committee is seeking “information on requests” for the unmasking of names made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.