Law­mak­ers vow Rus­sia hacking probe

Trump calls as­sess­ment by CIA “ridicu­lous,” re­fuses daily brief­ings.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Lau­rie Kell­man

wash­ing­ton» Donald Trump on Sun­day called a re­cent CIA as­sess­ment of Rus­sian hacking “ridicu­lous” and says he’s not in­ter­ested in get­ting daily in­tel­li­gence brief­ings — an un­prece­dented pub­lic dis­missal by a pres­i­dent-elect of the na­tion’s mas­sive and so­phis­ti­cated in­tel­li­gence ap­pa­ra­tus.

Trump’s re­marks come as key con­gres­sional Re­pub­li­cans joined Democrats in de­mand­ing a bi­par­ti­san in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Krem­lin’s ac­tiv­i­ties and ques­tioned con­sid­er­a­tion of Exxon Mo­bil CEO Rex Tiller­son — who has close busi­ness ties with Moscow — as head of the State Depart­ment.

Asked whether he’s re­ject­ing valu­able in­tel­li­gence on “Fox News Sun­day,” Trump was de­fi­ant.

“I get it when I need it,” he said of the top-secret brief­ings ses­sions, adding that he’s leav­ing it up to the briefers to de­cide when a de­vel­op­ment rep­re­sents a “change” big enough to no­tify him.

“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 said.

The CIA has con­cluded with “high con-

fi­dence” that Rus­sia sought to in­flu­ence the U.S. elec­tion on be­half of Trump. The find­ing alarmed law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man John McCain, who said Sun­day he planned to put Sen. Lind­say Gra­ham, a staunch Trump critic, in charge of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the claim.

McCain also has ques­tions about Tiller­son’s busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, al­though it’s not clear Tiller­son will be nom­i­nated. Sun­day evening, Tiller­son had still not been for­mally of­fered the job, ac­cord­ing to a per­son with knowl­edge of the process who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Exxon steadily ex­panded its Rus­sian busi­ness on Tiller­son’s watch even as its ri­vals faced ex­pro­pri­a­tion and reg­u­la­tory ob­sta­cles. In 2013, Putin be­stowed the Or­der of Friend­ship on Tiller­son.

“Maybe those ties are strictly com­mer­cial and got to do with his busi­ness in the oil busi­ness. Fine,” McCain told CBS’s “Face the Na­tion.” And “we’ll give him a fair hear­ing. But is it a mat­ter of con­cern? Cer­tainly it should be a mat­ter of con­cern.”

McCain wasn’t alone in rais­ing ques­tions about whether there would be enough blow­back to sink a Tiller­son nom­i­na­tion.

“Be­ing a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an at­tribute I am hop­ing for from a #Sec­re­taryOfS­tate,” tweeted Florida Repub­li­can Sen. Marco Ru­bio, Trump’s for­mer cam­paign ri­val and a mem­ber of the Se­nate Foreign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

Penn­syl­va­nia Demo­cratic Sen. Bob Casey said the de­vel­op­ments “raise se­ri­ous ques­tions about whether the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion will ad­e­quately stand up to Rus­sia’s ag­gres­sion.”

Separately, Trump also re­jected the CIA’s con­clu­sion that Rus­sia tried to in­ter­fere with the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and blamed “very em­bar­rassed” Democrats for the pub­lic re­lease of the as­sess­ment. The Wash­ing­ton Post first re­ported the CIA find­ing on Fri­day.

“It’s ridicu­lous,” Trump said of the CIA’s as­sess­ment.

He added, how­ever, that he doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily op­pose Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s or­der for a re­view of cam­paign-sea­son hacking.

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