WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Monday dismissed as a "joke" claims by Hillary Clinton's campaign that Russia is trying to help Trump by leaking thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta added fuel to the debate Monday, saying there was "a kind of bromance going on" between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump. The Clinton campaign says Russia favors Trump's views, especially on NATO.
"The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should have never been written (stupid), because Putin likes me," Trump wrote as part of a series of Tweets. "Hillary was involved in the e-mail scandal because she is the only one with judgement (sic) so bad that such a thing could have happened."
Wikileaks posted emails Friday that suggested the DNC was favoring Clinton over her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primary season, enraging die-hard Sanders supporters who have long claimed that the DNC had its finger on the scale throughout the primaries. The disclosures prompted the resignation of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the eve of the party's convention in Philadelphia, where Clinton is expected to officially accept the nomination for president.
How the emails were stolen hasn't been confirmed.
Clinton's campaign stood firmly behind their claims of Russian involvement Monday.
"There is a consensus among experts that it is indeed Russia that is behind this hack of the DNC," Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN.
It is not clear whether the WikiLeaks breach is linked to an earlier incident in June. CrowdStrike Inc., a cybersecurity firm, said last month that the DNC asked it to investigate a suspected breach of its systems that began as early as last summer. CrowdStrike said it quickly found traces of two of the best adversaries in the hacking arena, both tied to the Russian government.
On Sunday, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said that it was "concerning last week that Donald Trump changed the Republican platform to become what some experts would regard as pro-Russian."
Trump's senior policy adviser Paul Manafort called statements by the Clinton campaign "pretty desperate."
"It's a far reach, obviously," Manafort told reporters. "To lead their convention with that tells me they really are trying to move away from what the issues are going to be in this campaign. It's pretty absurd."
Trump told the New York Times last week that he would decide whether to protect America's NATO allies against Russian aggression based on whether those countries "have fulfilled their obligations to us," hinting that he might pivot away from the decades-old agreement.
Associated Press writers Sam Hananel and Joan Lowey contributed to this report from Washington.