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Trump Ties C.I.A. Reports on Russian Meddling to Democrats’ Shame Over Defeat

President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Sunday morning that he did not believe American intelligence assessments that Russia had intervened to help his candidacy, casting blame for the reports on Democrats, who he said were embarrassed about losing to him.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t believe it.”

He also indicated that, as president, he would not take the daily intelligence briefing that President Obama and his predecessors have received. Mr. Trump, who has received the briefing sparingly as president-elect, said that it was often repetitive and that he would take it “when I need it.” He said his vice president, Mike Pence, would receive the daily briefing.

“You know, 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,” he said. He added that he had instructed the officials who give the briefing: “‘If something should change from this point, immediately call me. I’m available on a one-minute’s notice.’”

Mr. Trump’s seeming dismissal of the importance of that daily interaction with the intelligence agencies, as well as his claims of politically tainted intelligence reports on Russia, widened a remarkable breach between a president-elect and the agencies that he will have to rely on to carry out priorities like fighting terrorism and deterring cyberattacks.

The Obama administration reached a consensus months ago that Russia was trying to interfere in the election. After initially believing that Russia’s goal was to undermine American democratic processes, the intelligence agencies concluded a week after the vote that the Russian efforts had been intended, at least in their latter stages, to help Mr. Trump.

The president-elect said those new reports were politically motivated. “I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country,” he said in the interview, recorded on Saturday. During the campaign, he also dismissed any suggestion of Russian meddling.

Pressed about why he did not believe the intelligence agencies’ conclusions, Mr. Trump said there was disagreement among intelligence agencies about the extent and the origin of the hacking.

“They’re fighting among themselves,” he said. “They’re not sure.”

The Washington Post and The New York Times reported on Friday that American intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia took covert action during the campaign to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. The new conclusion, The Times reported, was based in part on evidence found by the C.I.A. that Russian hackers had penetrated the Republican National Committee’s computer system, as well as that of the Democrats and several of Mrs. Clinton’s senior aides, but leaked only Democratic correspondence.

Mr. Trump’s transition office responded to those reports with a blistering statement on Friday night dismissing the intelligence agencies as “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” The office said it was time to “move on” from the election.

Source: The New York Times 

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