President-elect Donald Trump dismissed claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 election by hacking and leaking emails of top Democratic officials at the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The Washington Post and New York Times both reported this week that the CIA presented a report to Congress that concluded Russian hackers attempted to aide Trump by selectively providing private emails to WikiLeaks from the DNC and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
In Sunday’s interview, Trump said that he doesn’t believe the reports “at all,” reiterating claims that the hackers “could be somebody sitting in a bed some place.”
The president-elect also suggested without evidence that the report was the work of Democrats.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said of the report. “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it. I don’t know why and I think it’s just — you know, they talked about all sorts of things. Every week it’s another excuse. We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.”
He added: “I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country. And frankly, I think they’re putting it out. And it’s ridiculous. We ought to get back to making America great again, which is what we’re going to do. And we’ve already started the process.”
Although Trump praised President Barack Obama’s orderly handling of the presidential transition of power, Trump suggested — without citing evidence — that the report could be an attempt by Obama and Democrats to undercut him.
“It could be. I think President Obama has been terrific. He’s been, you know, very respectful of the process and everything else,” Trump said. “I don’t want anyone hacking us, and I’m not only talking about countries. I’m talking about anyone, period. But if you’re gonna to do that, I think you should not just say ‘Russia.’ You should say other countries also, and maybe other individuals.”
“It could be. I mean, it could be,” Trump said when asked to clarify whether he thought the CIA’s report was political. “We had — many people are saying — one of the great victories of all time. They’re very embarrassed.”
In Sunday’s interview, Trump suggested that intelligence and national security officials he appoints may reach different conclusions than those tapped by the Obama administration.
“I’ve made changes, you know, at the top. I mean, we’re going to have different people coming in, because we have our people. They have their people, and I have great respect for them,” Trump said.
Throughout the 2016 campaign and his subsequent election, Trump has been repeatedly criticised for his apparent embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin, an autocrat who has consolidated power in Russia over decades and jailed political dissidents.
The president-elect reportedly will nominate Exxon-Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State. The selection of Tillerson raised eyebrows because of the CEO’s close ties to Putin. During the campaign, Trump praised Putin’s high poll numbers, and suggested that he was a leader “far more than our president has been a leader.”
Russian leaders openly celebrated Trump’s victory over Clinton, who many saw as hostile to Russia.
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