‘I don’t believe it’, says Trump on Russia meddling in US election

WASHINGTON: President-elect Donald Trump dismissed a brewing storm over Russian cyber meddling in the US election, rejecting as “ridiculous” reports that the CIA has concluded that Moscow was trying to help him win the White House. “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it,” Trump said in an interview recorded on Saturday but broadcast Sunday on Fox News. “I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said. In the interview Trump touched on other issues — questioning US commitment to the “one China policy” without concessions from Beijing, criticising “out of control” Pentagon arms contracts, and hailing Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who is under consideration for secretary of state, as “a world class player.”
But the controversy over the latest US intelligence consensus on Russia and Trump’s skepticism of the findings dominated the conversation at a time of deepening political divisions over how to respond to the hacking attacks.
Two top Republican senators — John McCain and Lindsey Graham — joined leading Democrats Sunday in calling for greater public disclosure about “recent cyber attacks that have cut to the heart of our free society.”
“This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country,” they said in a joint statement with Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader in the Senate, and Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
They pledged to work across party lines to have the incidents investigated, but other Republicans said the evidence does not support the conclusions that the Russian meddling was aimed at helping Trump.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said on Saturday, in an extraordinary rebuke of the spy agency.
Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the hacking was definitely the work of the Russians.
“This was not China. This wasn’t a 400 pound guy in New Jersey or anyone else,” Schiff said, mocking similar comments Trump has made. “This was the Russians.”
He added: “The fact that we have a President-elect who is willing to disregard the overwhelming evidence of the intelligence community just on the basis of the Russian involvement in the hacking of institutions, tells me this will be a President who will disregard even the best assessments of the intelligence community when it doesn’t suit his own version of events. That is extraordinarily damaging.”
US intelligence has previously linked Russia to leaks of damaging email from Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign but saw it as a broad bid to undermine confidence in the US political process.
On Friday, however, the Washington Post reported that the CIA has concluded that the aim of the cyber intrusions was to help Trump win the election.
The New York Times quoted a senior administration officials as saying there was “high confidence” that the Russians hacked both the Democratic and Republican National Committees, but leaked only documents damaging to Clinton through WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied links with Russia’s government. Trump dismissed the reports as an attempt by Democrats to excuse their embarrassing election loss, asserting that US spy agencies were fighting among themselves and there is “great confusion” over the issue. — AFP