Trump denies CIA report that Russia intervened to help him win election
By Elise Viebeck December 11 at 9:05 AM
President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves the New York Times building after a meeting on Nov. 22. (Mark Lennihan/AP)
President-elect Donald Trump said he does not believe the CIA’s conclusion that Russia intervened in the election to help him win, attributing the assessment to Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton and claiming repeatedly that the U.S. intelligence community has “no idea” what might have happened.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” his first Sunday show appearance since the election last month. “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it . . . No, I don’t believe it at all.”
Trump also denied the importance of receiving the daily intelligence briefing, a tradition for presidents and presidents-elect. He has received the briefings only sporadically since winning the election.
“I get it when I need it,” he said. “I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”
[Trump, CIA on collision course over Russia’s role in U.S. election]
Trump’s comments go against the conclusion of the CIA that individuals with connections to the Russian government provided the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others to boost his chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators told The Washingon Post on Friday. “That’s the consensus view.”
Trump openly mocked the report on Friday evening, suggesting that the CIA had discredited itself by producing faulty assessments about Iraq’s weapons stockpile during the George W. Bush administration. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” he said in a statement.
The latest comments appear destined to exacerbate tensions between Trump and the intelligence community, which is already wondering how it will function under his administration given the president-elect’s skepticism of the agency’s expertise and his disinterest in receiving daily briefings.
[FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers on Russia’s motives in 2016 hacks]
Trump declined to confirm whom he will name secretary of state but lavished praise on his expected pick, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, calling him a “world-class player” and even alluding to Tillerson’s ties to Russia, which are a source of concern for hawkish Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“He’s in charge of an oil company that’s pretty much double the size of his next serious competitor,” Trump said of Tillerson. “It’s been a company that’s been unbelievably managed. And to me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company.”
Secretary of state is the most powerful cabinet position that remains unfilled by Trump about a month after the election. For weeks, Trump has interviewed candidates, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R), and deliberated about the decision.
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Trump suggested in the “Fox News Sunday” appearance that he will retain a stake in his business as president, a possibility that has raised questions among ethics experts, and he questioned the idea that making deals for his company from the White House would represent a conflict of interest.
“When I ran, everybody knew that I was a very big owner of real estate all over the world,” Trump said, adding that he would not be involved in the day-to-day management of his company as president. “I’m not going to be doing deals at all. Now that would be — I don’t even know if that’s a conflict. I mean, I have the right to do it. You know, under the law, I have the right to do it. I just don’t want to do it.”
Trump is scheduled to give a news conference on Thursday to discuss how he will pass the reins of the Trump Organization to his three eldest children. “They’re not making deals, either, for my company,” he said.