President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday for the first time that he agrees with the US intelligence assessment that Russia, specifically President Vladimir Putin, was behind cyberattacks aimed at influencing November’s election, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Trump, in his first post-election news conference in New York, said Putin “shouldn’t have done it.”
And as he prepares to take office next week, he warned against future attempts to meddle in US elections.
“I think it was Russia, but we also get hacked by other countries,” Trump said. Putin “won’t be doing it” in the future, he said.
In the same conference, Trump escalated his public confrontation with US intelligence officials.
Although he called their work “vital” to American interests, Trump accused intelligence officials of leaking the fact that his classified briefing on an intelligence report last Friday included information on unsubstantiated allegations that Russia may have compromising material on the presidential-elect.
“That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do,” he said, accusing intelligence officials of leaks. “I think it’s a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public.”
The press conference encapsulated the tensions that are rife in the relationship between the incoming president and his intelligence services.
His comments acknowledging that Putin was behind the cyberattacks contrast with his weeks-long stance of questioning the intelligence assessment that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and the email account of a top adviser to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, at one point calling it “ridiculous.”
Trump didn’t answer questions about whether he would now support tougher action against Russia in response to the cyberattack, and he didn’t respond to a question about whether anyone connected to him or his campaign had any contact with Russia during the campaign.
He also declined to answer several questions about whether he plans to maintain or roll back sanctions and other measures targeting Russia that President Barack Obama adopted in response to the cyberattacks.
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