Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said evidence implicates Russia in recent email hacks tied to the U.S. election, contradicting his running mate, Donald Trump, who cast doubt on Russia’s involvement.
Pence said in an interview aired on “Fox News Sunday” that Russia or any other country involved in hacking should face “severe consequences.” The disagreement with Trump, the Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 election, came after the pair also publicly disagreed about U.S. policy toward Russia in Syria.
U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia is behind recent email hacks targeting Democratic Party officials, including the continuing dumps by Wikileaks of documents stolen from the email account of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
“I think there’s no question that the evidence continues to point in that direction,” Pence said. “There should be severe consequences to Russia or any sovereign nation that is compromising the privacy or the security of the United States of America.”
In another interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Pence said “there’s more and more evidence that implicates Russia.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week said his country was not involved in trying to influence the U.S. election.
Trump, who has been criticized for appearing too close to Russia after he publicly praised Putin’s strength, has questioned the reports of Moscow’s involvement. During last week’s second debate with Clinton he said, “Maybe there is no hacking.”
Trump also broke with Pence during that debate on their foreign policy stance toward Russia. Pence had recently said the United States should use military force in Syria if Russia continued airstrikes to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, but Trump said he disagreed with that stance.
Trump this week has said the election is being “rigged” against him by the Clinton campaign and the media, raising questions about whether he would challenge the outcome should he lose to Clinton.
Pence said on “Face the Nation” Republicans would accept the result.
“We’ll respect the outcome of this election,” he said. “Donald Trump said in the first debate that we’ll respect the will of the American people in this election. The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of American history.”
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