Trump says hacking had ‘absolutely no effect’ on election outcome

World Today

Donald Trump President-elect Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President-elect Donald Trump said the meeting with intelligence officials was ‘constructive,’ and that hacking had ‘absolutely no effect’ on the election outcome.

The remarks by Trump came after he was briefed by intelligence officials — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey. They briefed senior lawmakers Friday morning. President Barack Obama received a briefing on Thursday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in December responded to the allegations, and the subsequent sanctions from the U.S. on Russia, saying “the outgoing Obama administration, which routinely blames everything on Russia, including the failure of US foreign policy initiatives, has accused it, without cause, of interfering in the US election campaign in favour of the Republican candidate.”

The declassified version of the report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released Friday concluded “We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the intelligence report was “quite a stunning disclosure” and said parts will be released today, though she didn’t provide any specifics. She made the comments at her weekly Capitol Hill news conference.

Early on Friday, ahead of his briefing, Trump was upset that NBC released information about the hacking, tweeting: “I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.” NBC reported that intelligence officials have identified proxies that Russia used to pass hacked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, which then released them to the public.

Since winning the election, Trump has repeatedly questioned intelligence officials’ assessments that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and individual Democrats like Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Trump remained dubious about the assertion even on the eve of his intelligence briefing, asking how officials could be “so sure” about the hacking if they had not examined DNC servers.

“What is going on?” he wrote on Twitter.

A senior law enforcement official said the FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the importance of obtaining direct access to the servers “only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated.” The official said the FBI had to rely on a “third party” for information, but did get access to the material it needed.

Story by The Associated Press