Interviews

DeSantis: Important to note voting systems were not hacked

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 16, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  Just how involved was Russia in the election earlier this year?  Well, according to our Catherine Herridge, who is getting some sort of chain of events, the CIA Director Brennan had met separately with the FBI director, James Comey, and Jim Clapper over at intelligence, and there was a strong consensus, we're told, on the scope, nature and intent about Russian interference in our presidential election.  

I want to raise this with Ron DeSantis, the House Foreign Affairs Committee bigwig and Republican from the fine state of Florida.  

And, sir, thank you for sticking around on this.  What do we know about this?  If the intelligence community, I guess from this was under agreement that Russia was involved, but what isn't clear is to the extent -- this alone or with others.  

They leave out that whether this affected the results of the election.  No one has made that leap outside of some, you know, liberal political extremists.  What do you think?  

REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA., FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE:  Well, we haven't been briefed in the Congress.  I mean, the Intelligence Committee asked for a briefing.  We were denied.  So I would like to get more information.  I think it's important though because the media has been, in some quarters, I think, irresponsible when they say Russia "hacked the election."

The average person sees that and they think, oh man, were they hacking our voting machines?  Was the vote count off because of cyber-attack?  That is not what we're talking about here.  

What we're talking about are effectively routine cyber-security attacks, which, by the way, that happens from Russia, China, North Korea, you name it, every single day in this country.  And some of the information that was gleaned from those attacks, such as the Podesta's emails, were then put out by WikiLeaks.  

And so it's, I guess, effecting the election in the sense it's putting information out that was derogatory to one side vis-a-vis the other.  But it was not an attack on our system of voting.  I just think it's very important to underline that.  

CAVUTO:  Yes. And to be fair to the president, nothing in his comments today indicated that this did compromise our election systems and machinery in place, or rig the vote, to use an old line.  Are you convinced of that, that whatever role Russia might have had involved, either alone or with others, way too early to tell, I know, that that is the case?  That whatever they did, alone or in concert, didn't influence the outcome of this election?  

DESANTIS:  Well, I can say for sure that they did not actually hack into voting systems or change votes.  Now the.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  But to be clear, I'm sorry I wasn't clear, Congressman.  But the report that they were involved in trying to do that, or at least leak out stuff and foster that.  

DESANTIS:  But that's different, yes.  So leaking out.

CAVUTO:  Absolutely.  Do you think that that could have changed outcomes in close states?  

DESANTIS:  You know, probably not.  If you think about this Podesta hack, that was not a sophisticated hack.  He actually responded to a phishing email.  It was a fake email.  He put in his password, and then they ended up getting all this information.  They tried similar things with the Republican National Committee but weren't as successful.  

And when the FBI went to the DNC and say, hey, you guys are getting attacked, they just kind of blew them off.  And so part of it may have just been that the attacks were more effective so they had more information to work with.  

But I don't think you can say that but for some of the Podesta's emails coming out that somehow Hillary would have won.  The emails were embarrassing.  But at the end of the day, I don't think they were decisive.  

CAVUTO:  Yes, I'm just looking at media coverage, I remember far more talk about Donald Trump and what -- the comments he had made and tweets he had made that dwarfing whatever we had on this email stuff, but that could be me.  

But, congressman, let me get your take on how this drip, drip, drip of information about Russia and its involvement, even if it's true that it didn't affect the outcome, that maybe, you know, it surprised people to the degree to which the Russians could do this, is always going to be a cloud over Donald Trump.  Do you think that is the intent here?  

DESANTIS:  Well, I think the media is definitely trying to sow doubts about Donald Trump's legitimacy.  I don't think there's any question about that. I'm not sure that that's necessarily going to have legs.  I mean, he is going to take the oath of office on January 20th.  And he is going to pursue policies.  

And if his policies make America great again, make us stronger in the world, then people are going to forget about this.  If somehow they don't, then maybe they will point back to it.  

But I do think it's odd, I think there has been a lot of effort spilled on this.  And I think it's because they're trying to say, hey, he didn't win the popular vote, this guy really shouldn't be president.  

CAVUTO:  Yes, that's coming through on left or the right.  It's an interesting sort of coup de grace.  All right, Ron DeSantis, thank you very much.  Good seeing you.  

DESANTIS:  Good to see you.  

END

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