Trump to Meet with US Intelligence Chiefs on Russia Hacking
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has dismissed the idea from the U.S. intelligence community that Russia hacked into the recent presidential election process, will receive a full briefing Friday from the leaders of the intelligence community.
In an unprecedented move for a president-elect, Trump has been highly critical of the intelligence community, although on Thursday he softened his tone somewhat with a Tweet saying he is “a big fan” of U.S. intelligence.
On Thursday, America’s top spies testified the evidence is firm that Russia interfered with the November presidential election, but they say there is no way to tell if it helped Trump win.
“The Russians have a long history of interfering in elections, theirs and other people’s,” National Intelligence Director James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “But we have never encountered such a direct campaign to interfere with the election process as we have seen in this case.”
Multifaceted Russian campaign
Clapper told the senators that Russia undertook a “multifaceted campaign” that included not just hacking and leaking Democratic Party emails, but also “classical propaganda, misinformation, fake news.”
Clapper said he cannot know for sure if the Russian leaks of sensitive information influenced the choices voters made on November 8. But he did say Russia did not interfere with the vote counting or the the final result.
President-elect Trump, who has made no secret of his admiration of Russian Presider Vladimir Putin, has said he has serious doubts Russia was involved in the hacking, and has not spoken highly of the U.S. intelligence community.
Trump repeatedly taken swipes at what he has called the “dishonest media” for what he said was misrepresenting his views.
“The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange — wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against “Intelligence” when in fact I am a big fan!” Trump said in back-to-back tweets.
Coats tapped for DNI job
Trump is expected to name a new director of national intelligence to replace Clapper when the new president takes office later this month.
Trump’s pick, former Senator Dan Coats, is a former ambassador to Germany and served two years in the army before he represented the state of Indiana in the U.S. Senate from 1989 until 1999 and again since 2011. He declined to run for another term of office in last November’s election.
Clapper, who is 75, announced some time ago he would not seek to extend his term of director of national intelligence beyond the Obama administration.
During Thursday’s hearing, Clapper said he does not believe Assange is a credible source, noting that the WikiLeaks founder has, in the past, put the lives of U.S. intelligence operatives at risk.
“I don’t think those of us in the intelligence community have a whole lot of respect for him,” said Clapper.
Move to sack Obama’s ambassadors
New reports also suggest that Trump is poised to call all of President Barack Obama’s foreign ambassadors home before Inauguration Day, marking a major shift from past precedent.
Both Politico and The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, report that the Trump transition team sent a letter to the ambassadors ordering them to leave their foreign posts “without exception” before January 20.
According to an unnamed source in The Times, the move isn’t meant to be political, but is meant to keep the transition on schedule.
Trump, on Friday, also addressed news reports that he would ask Congress to pay for the wall in a series of tweets, calling them “dishonest.”
Who will pay for border wall?
CNN reported Thursday night the Trump will seek funding for a border wall with Mexico from Congress – a marked change from his campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall.
Trump sees things differently, though. While he acknowledged that tax payers would initially be on the hook for the wall’s funding, he said Mexico would pay the money back.
“The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall [for sake of speed], will be paid back by Mexico later!” he tweeted.
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