CNN anchor confronts Trump adviser on Russia: 'How can you say that the hacking had no impact on the election?'

CNN anchor Jake Tapper pressed President-elect Donald Trump's top counselor over why his team hesitated to admit that they benefited from internal emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign exposed by Russian hacking and leaking.

In an interview on CNN on Sunday, Tapper asked Kellyanne Conway why she dismissed the hacking's impact on the 2016 election.

"What I'm confused about is, how can you say that the hacking had no impact on the election when Mr. Trump kept invoking WikiLeaks, which was printing, publishing things that the Russians had hacked?" Tapper asked.

Conway did not directly admit that the Russians were the hackers, as a report from top US intelligence agencies concluded, but instead blamed the Clinton campaign for its own shortcomings.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway is pictured during a meeting with Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway (L) is pictured during a meeting with Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stands near his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (L) before being introduced for the Commander in Chief Forum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (C) attends a campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Paul Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's staff speak during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. Picture taken August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway (L) and Paul Manafort, staff of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, speak during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, talks with Kellyanne Conway at the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greets Kellyanne Conway at the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., talks with Kellyanne Conway at the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Bai. National Politics Correspondent, Yahoo! News, Kellyanne Conway, Republican Strategist and Pollster, and moderator Chuck Todd appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday May 8, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Kellyanne Conway, president and chief executive officer of Polling Co. Inc./Woman Trend, smiles during an interview on 'With All Due Respect' in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Asked how Trump reassures conservatives about his positions on issues such as abortion without losing ground with voters in the center, Republican pollster Conway, one of Trump's new senior strategists, said he would work to shift the spotlight to Clinton. Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Kellyanne Conway, Republican Strategist & Pollster, left, and Robert Costa, National Political Reporter, The Washington Post, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday May 29, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Kellyanne Conway is a guest on 'Good Morning America,' 5/10/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images) KELLYANNE CONWAY, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
ASTON, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (R) stands backstage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Sun Center Studios September 22, 2016 in Aston, Pennsylvania. A national poll released yesterday shows Trump trailing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 6 points in a four-way matchup. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Kellyanne Conway discusses the Trump Campaign on 'Good Morning America,' 9/7/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, KELLYANNE CONWAY
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Conway pointed out that Clinton was not seen as trustworthy by many voters far before what the Trump counselor described as the "alleged attacks, alleged aspirations to interfere with out democracy."

"It had an effect on his debate answer, it had an effect on the Clinton campaign, because it was quite embarrassing to watch her closest advisers question her judgment, question whether she would ever find her voice, wondering aloud why she was testing 84 slogans to find out who she was and what she would run on," Conway said.

Tapper acknowledged that while there were "dozens of reasons why Hillary Clinton is not the president-elect," he was confused why Conway continued to hedge over the hack's impact on the election.

"But what I guess I don't understand is why there is this reluctance by President-elect Trump and people around him to acknowledge Russia did this," Tapper said. "You said it was an alleged attack. I don't know why you're saying alleged."

"No, no: Alleged to interfere with our democracy. In other words, they didn't succeed," Conway replied. "Even if you read The New York Times and Washington Post, people are admitting, cyber-experts certainly are saying, Jake, that they did not succeed."

When Tapper said that Conway was "trying to make an argument against Hillary Clinton using the work of Russian hackers," she interjected, invoking Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

"You know what, Jake? With all due respect to Hillary Clinton, we didn't need WikiLeaks to convince the American people that they didn't like her, didn't trust her, didn't find her to be honest. She did that all on her own. She got this party started by setting up an illegal server and opening it to hacks, for intelligence and security information that's much more serious than what a political party would have on its server," Conway said. "So, she started it."

After months of vehemently denying Russia's involvement in the hacking, Trump's team slightly conceded following a classified intelligence briefing on Friday that Russia likely hacked the DNC.

In an interview on Fox on Sunday, Reince Priebus acknowledged that Trump "accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia," but argued that the DNC should have invested more in cyber security measures.

Watch part of the Tapper-Conway exchange below via CNN:

NOW WATCH: 11 facts that show how different Russia is from the rest of the world

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SEE ALSO: Rhode Island's governor: Democrats need to be 'obsessed with job creation' in the age of Trump

DON'T MISS: US intelligence report: Putin ordered a hacking campaign to harm Hillary Clinton


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