Trump crit­i­cizes re­port as ‘ blot’ on in­tel­li­gence work

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A defiant Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump on Wed­nes­day adamantly de­nied re­ports that Rus­sia had com­pro­mis­ing per­sonal and fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion about him, call­ing it a “tremen­dous blot” on the record of the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity if ma­te­rial with any such al­le­ga­tions had been re­leased.

The in­com­ing pres­i­dent, in his first news con­fer­ence since late July, firmly chided news or­ga­ni­za­tions for pub­lish­ing the ma­te­rial late Tues­day night. Af­ter weeks of scoff­ing at re­ports that Rus­sians had in­ter­fered in the elec­tion, he con­ceded pub­licly for the first time that Rus­sia was likely re­spon­si­ble for the hack­ing of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

“As far as hack­ing, I think it was Rus­sia,” he said, and quickly added that the United States is hacked by other coun­tries as well.

Trump’s ex­traor­di­nary de­fense against the un­sub­stan­ti­ated in­tel­li­gence re­port, just nine days be­fore his in­au­gu­ra­tion, dom­i­nated a highly an­tic­i­pated press con­fer­ence in which he also an­nounced a new Cabi­net mem­ber, de­tailed his plans to dis­en­tan­gle him­self from his sprawl­ing global busi­ness empire, gave his out­look on the fu­ture of the “Oba­macare” health care law and said he would soon nom­i­nate some­one to fill the va­cancy on the Supreme Court.

“I think it’s a dis­grace that in­for­ma­tion would be let out. I saw the in­for­ma­tion, I read the in­for­ma­tion out­side of that meet­ing,” he said, a ref­er­ence to a clas­si­fied brief­ing he re­ceived from in­tel­li­gence lead­ers. “It’s all fake news, it’s phony stuff, it didn’t hap­pen,” Trump said in a news con­fer­ence that saw him re­peat­edly joust with re­porters. “It was got­ten by op­po­nents of ours.”

Asked about his re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Trump boasted that it is an im­prove­ment over what he called Amer­ica’s cur­rent “hor­ri­ble re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia” and did not crit­i­cize the Rus­sian leader for any in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion.

“If Putin likes Don­ald Trump, guess what, folks, that’s called an as­set not a li­a­bil­ity. I don’t know if I’m go­ing to get along with Vladimir Putin — I hope I do — but there’s a good chance I won’t.”

Trump, Vice-Pres­i­den­t­elect Mike Pence and in­com­ing White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer also de­nounced the re­port about Rus­sia’s in­flu­ence on Trump, and the in­com­ing pres­i­dent said it never should have been re­leased. He thanked some news or­ga­ni­za­tions for show­ing re­straint.

A US of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Tues­day night that in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials had in­formed Trump last week about an un­sub­stan­ti­ated re­port that Rus­sia had com­pro­mis­ing per­sonal and fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion about him.

The of­fi­cial spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the of­fi­cial was not al­lowed to pub­licly dis­cuss the mat­ter.

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