Washington- 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.
“I think there’s more and more evidence that implicates Russia,” Pence said.
Pence told reporters that Russia or any other country involved in hacking should face “severe consequences.”
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.”
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.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden said: “We’re sending a message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. We have the capacity to do it and the message will be sent. He’ll know it and it will be at the time of our choosing and under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.”
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.