Chris Christie defends DNC chair Donna Brazile in fiery panel on the new Russian hacking indictments

ABC’s ‘This Week’Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile appeared on a fiery panel on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday.
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile’s criticism of the media’s handling of the 2016 hacking of the DNC.
  • Brazile’s emails were leaked to the press during her time at the DNC in 2016, which Christie said unfairly “banged” the committee and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
  • The two were appearing on a panel with reporters from The New York Times and NPR on Sunday about the special counsel’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stepped up to defend a rather unlikely person on Sunday – former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile. But they had a common criticism: the media’s handling of the 2016 DNC hack.

On a panel for ABC’s “This Week”, Christie and Brazile joined NPR host Steve Inskeep and The New York Times Washington Bureau Chief Elisabeth Bumiller to discuss the special counsel’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. One of the charges in the indictment was the Kremlin agents’ part in stealing and publishing Democratic officials’ emails.

Brazile’s emails were leaked to the press during her time as interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, the media coverage of which Christie said unfairly “banged” the committee and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

After host Jonathan Karl asked if “the news media writ-large bear some amount of responsibility”, Christie backed up Brazile’s statement that the media “blew it out of proportion”.

“The media was playing this at the time as if this was credible sourcing and what Donna said is absolutely right,” Christie said.

“You had to know they didn’t have all of her emails – they just took the most embarrassing ones – and you can’t assess the credibility of someone with just part of a story,” he continued. “But the media banged her and a lot of other people in the Clinton campaign unfairly.”

Christie, a prominent Republican and former transition aide to the Trump campaign, spoke up after Brazile took aim at the press, who she said contributed to the leak’s work as a “highly sophisticated cyberoperation”.

Brazile also expressed relief at the indictment, which Christie called “an extraordinary bit of work here by the special counsel Robert Mueller and his people and the Department of Justice”, and pressed that President Donald Trump needs to bring up the charges with Putin and protect the US election system.

“It is finally acknowledged that the hacking was a crime,” Brazile said. “At the time of the hacking, nobody believed us and we didn’t have anyone to come to our defence.”

“There was no way we could go to Staples, or Best Buy, or Office Depot or Office Max to buy anti-GRU military intelligence software to protect and defend ourselves,” she added.

Calls for Trump to take Putin to task for the hacks

On Friday, Mueller’s team indicted 12 members of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit, and named 11 of them to be accused of conspiring to interfere with the 2016 election by hacking computers, stealing documents, and releasing those documents with the intent to interfere.

“I think the most important thing, now that we know there are several witches – not some 400-pound guy sitting on the bed – the president needs to acknowledge this and recognise that he has to defend and protect our democracy,” Brazile said.

She was referring to Trump’s comments during a September 2016 presidential debate that suggested there was no way to know if Russia was responsible for the DNC hack.

“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC,” Trump said at the time. “Maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Brazile became the committee’s interim chair after WikiLeaks emails were released before the party’s convention that displayed some staffers’ opposition to Sen. Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee.

Trump has not condemned Putin since the indictments, instead tweeting on Saturday to blame former President Barack Obama’s administration for failing to respond in late 2016, a pointed finger he doubled down on in an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday.

Watch the full panel segment below:

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.