United States President-elect Donald Trump was “obviously aware” about Russia’s involvement in the country’s presidential elections, the White House said on Wednesday, according to CNN. White House Press Secretary John Earnest told reporters that there was ample evidence long before the election about the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent...It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he had available to him, that Russia was involved and their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent’s campaign,” Earnest said.

“The Republican nominee chose a campaign chair that had extensive, lucrative, personal financial ties to the Kremlin,” Earnest added.

A secret Central Intelligence Agency assessment confirmed that Russia had been involved in trying to influence elections to help Trump win, The Washington Post had reported on December 9. Outgoing president Barack Obama had sought a full report from the country’s intelligence agencies about this. Trump, however, has repeatedly denied reports of Russia’s involvement.

The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday accused Trump of giving Russia “an early holiday gift that smells like payoff”. “Russia meddled in the US election in order to benefit Trump, and now he’s repaying Vladimir Putin by nominating ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.” the DNC said according to The Washington Times.