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Vladimir Putin screws up famous Bush quote in weird bid to deny 2016 hacking

Russian President Putin Attends Russian-Japanese Business Dialogue In Tokyo (Ma Ping/Pool/Getty Images)
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on a Thursday morning CNBC panel, for some reason, where he was asked whether Russia interfered in the US election. His answer was a categorical no, albeit one with a deeply ironic twist.

“Ronald Reagan once, when debating about taxes and addressing the Americans, said, ‘Read my lips: no,’” the Russian strongman said. “Read my lips: no.”

Putin actually got the wrong American president. The quote comes from George H.W. Bush, who said, “Read my lips: no new taxes,” in his 1988 speech at the Republican National Convention. More importantly, that line remains well-known because it was a promise that Bush famously betrayed. In 1990, Bush struck a deal with Democrats on deficit reduction, passing a budget that included tax increases.

Putin, then, is quoting a line that’s famous for actually meaning the opposite. Which is appropriate, because he is clearly and obviously lying.

The evidence that Russia intervened in the US election is pretty conclusive. There’s consensus in the US intelligence community that Russia’s operation was designed in part to help Trump. Members of Congress who have seen the classified intelligence, such as Sen. Mark Warner, believe it to be conclusive.

We don’t have to take the US government’s word for it — the Russian hackers were sloppy, so much of the evidence linking them to the Russia hack is public. This includes code found directly in a previous Russian-linked breach of the German parliament, the use of a URL in an email to a Clinton aide that is publicly identified with a Russian state hacking group, and a laughable attempt by the hackers to pretend to be Romanian in an interview when they did not actually speak Romanian.

"The forensic evidence linking the DNC breach to known Russian operations is very strong," Thomas Rid, a professor at King’s College who studies cybersecurity, wrote at Vice last summer. "The forensic evidence that links network breaches to known groups is solid: used and reused tools, methods, infrastructure, even unique encryption keys."

At this point, there are only two kinds of people who deny Russian interference in the 2016 election: Vladimir Putin, and people echoing his propaganda.