President-elect Donald Trump said Friday that he is asking Congress to investigate how NBC got its hands on the intelligence community’s report on Russian election-related hacking before he saw it.
“I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it,” he posted to Twitter.
On Thursday night, following NBC’s on-air report of the intelligence findings, Trump posted that the news network received a copy of the document because of “politics.”
“How did NBC get “an exclusive look into the top secret report he (Obama) was presented?” Trump wrote. “Who gave them this report and why? Politics!”
NBC’s Hallie Jackson reported that the intelligence briefing, presented to President Barack Obama on Thursday, detailed Russian cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee, the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, and American companies. Some hacks were successful, while others were not.
Intelligence officials said in the briefing that the Russian motive was to disrupt the Democratic process in the election, and also served as “payback” for the Obama administration questioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s legitimacy.
The report tracked Russian cyber-activity to the prior two presidential elections, as well, according to NBC. It did not make an assessment on whether Russian hacking affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential race.
Trump is set to received a briefing from intelligence officials Friday on the report.
Elsewhere on Thursday, The Washington Post reported that intelligence officials picked up senior Russian officials celebrating Trump’s victory, and that go-betweens worked to turn over emails belonging to Democratic operatives and organisations from hackers to the website WikiLeaks.
Following WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this week, Trump on Twitter repeated Assange’s claim that Russia provided WikiLeaks with the hacked information.
“Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ — why was DNC so careless?” he wrote. “Also said Russians did not give him the info!”
WikiLeaks also chimed in Friday, posting that NBC was able to view the briefing because of “political reasons.”
“The Obama admin/CIA is illegally funelling TOP SECRET//COMINT information to NBC for political reasons before PEOTUS even gets to read it,” the website, infamous for releasing hacked and leaked documents, posted on Twitter.
It later called the sharing of intelligence with NBC a “#PseudoLeak.”
Both Republicans and Democrats have called for action against Russia after the hacking. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona have been two of the loudest voices on that front. After the Obama administration announced new sanctions on Russia last week, Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released statements that both criticised Russia and said President Barack Obama had not been hard enough on the Russian government in previous years.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the election-related hacks, and Trump has refused to acknowledge that Russia had involvement in them.
Last week, he said it was time for the US to move on to “bigger and better” things but he would “nevertheless” meet with intelligence officials to discuss the hacking. This past weekend he said he knew things about the hacking that no one else did and would reveal it Tuesday or Wednesday. He has yet to provide any further information.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”
Intelligence officials pushed back on his tweet, saying the briefing was always supposed to be held Friday.
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