President-elect Donald Trump said on Sunday that it is ridiculous to conclude that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to help him win the presidency.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday, president-elect Trump told host Chris Wallace he doesn’t believe Russia helped him to become elected, despite a new CIA assessment reported by the Washington Post on December 9th that claims Russian hackers directly intervened in the U.S. election through released e-mails in WikiLeaks to help him win the U.S. presidency, rather than to just erode confidence in the U.S. electoral college system.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse” Trump said on Fox News Sunday.
“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” Trump said.
Trump was asked about the reason the CIA would put out the story about Russians wanting him to win.
Trump responded by offering a new conspiracy theory involving Democrats putting out the story instead of the intelligence community.
“I’m not sure they put it out. 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. It’s ridiculous” Trump said.
Trump said the intelligence community is “fighting among themselves” and “they aren’t sure” when questioned about his refusal to believe the intelligence community’s final analysis.
According to the Washington Post, intelligence agencies have identified individuals with “connections to the Russian government” who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
During the presidential election season news sites, including this one, reported that Russian hackers were suspected of being behind the released e-mails on WikiLeaks and FBI Director James Comey refused to make a public statement about the issue because of concerns about impacting the outcome of the presidential election.
But the latest assessment from the CIA clearly concludes that Russia played a role undermining the U.S. presidential election and helping Donald Trump to become elected.
Although the Obama administration has been on the fence about how to respond to allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election, on Friday the White House asked for a full review of Russian hacking during the election led by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.
On the campaign trail, president elect Donald Trump called on Russia to locate 33,000 missing e-mails from Clinton’s private e-mail server and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling him a “strong leader.”
If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2016
Russia is facing tough sanctions led by the U.S. and EU for its intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Economic sanctions have weakened the value of the Russian ruble and triggered a financial crisis in Russia that was pushed lower in 2016 due to the large drop in crude oil prices.
Hillary Clinton is known for holding hawkish and interventionist positions with foreign policy compared to Trump whose allegiance to NATO has been questioned at a time when Russia is become more assertive in Eastern Europe and Syria.
During the presidential debates, Clinton talked tough about confronting Russia, including the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Syria.
Trump is expected to name Rex Tillerson as U.S. Secretary of State, according to multiple media sources.
Tillerson is an oil executive from Exxon with no government experience but he has undeniable ties to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In 2013 Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Tillerson has expressed his disapproval of sanctions on Russia when addressing shareholders in 2014 and spent many years working on Russian oil deals, including one that gives Exxon access to oil reserves in the Russian Artic in exchange for giving Russian state owned Rosneft the opportunity to invest in Exxon’s overseas operations.
Sanctions on Russia have prevented drilling in the Arctic.
Tillerson represented Exxon’s interests in Russia under Boris Yeltsin’s premiership and is a friend of Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, who is believed to be Russia’s second most powerful person behind Russian President Putin.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he is concerned about Tillerson’s relationship with Russia and some of his past statements about easing Russian sanctions.
“We want to make sure that the Secretary of State is a person who represents America” Cardin said.
“Once again, Russia is not our friend. They have attacked our allies. They are attacking us through the Internet” Cardin added.
“We need to make sure that the Secretary of State has independence and will represent U.S. interests and is not concerned about commercial interests with Russia over what is our national security interests” Cardin concluded.