THE CONSERVATIVE REVIEW - December 13, 2016
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*-- Donald Trump calls claims of Russian interference in election 'ridiculous' --*
NEW YORK - President-elect Donald Trump called the CIA's assessment that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election "ridiculous" and another "excuse" by Democrats.
Trump's comments in an interview on Fox News Sunday occurred shortly before a bipartisan group of senators described the reports as serious. Trump's interview was conducted Saturday at Trump Tower.
"It's just another excuse. I don't believe it," Trump said. "... Every week it's another excuse. We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College."
Trump, who claimed 306 of the total 538 Electoral College votes, trails Democrat Hillary Clinton by 2 percentage points, or 2.7 million votes in the popular vote. A turnaround of two closes races -- Pennsylvania and Michigan -- would have given Clinton enough votes to claim the presidency.
During the interview with Chris Wallace, Trump also defended his Cabinet selections, including tapping generals and fellow billionaires. He also vowed as well to "clean" up and "speed" up government agencies but not necessarily eliminate all of President Barack Obama's orders.
Trump said he disagrees with the intelligence agency's assessment of the hacking.
"Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting. Once they hack, if you don't catch them in the act, you're not going to catch them," he said. "They have no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place."
The Washington Post reported Friday that the CIA concluded that Russia interfered in the race to help elect Trump. Individuals connected to the Russian government gave WikiLeaks hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta.
Information was shared with key members of Congress before the election. The six Democrats wanted to release the information, but Republicans were split, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who didn't want the information released.
On Sunday, two Republican Senators called for an investigation.
"For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyberattacks at America's physical, economic, and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property. Now our democratic institutions have been targeted. Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American," Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a statement.
"... Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks. This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country."
Obama has ordered his intelligence agencies to conduct a "full review" of the alleged hacking and wants their findings before he leaves office Jan. 20, the White House said Friday.
Trump's transition team responded by saying the election "ended a long time ago" and "it's now time to move on and Make American Great Again." It also said, "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."
Trump and his supporters say the Russians' involvement is unclear and note ambiguity inside intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
In a Washington Post report Saturday, a senior FBI official suggested to lawmakers that the CIA and bureau did not agree on all matters during briefings after election.
The FBI official's remarks to the lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee were described as "fuzzy" and "ambiguous."
One week earlier the CIA's information was "direct and bald and unqualified" about Russia's intentions to help Trump, an official who attended the House briefing said.
During Sunday's interview, Trump said, "there's great confusion" surrounding the issue.
Trump also responded to reports he is not receiving traditional daily intelligence and national security briefings.
"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. "I don't need that. But I do say, 'If something should change, let us know.'"
He noted Vice President-elect Mike Pence receives daily briefings.
Trump was also asked about potential business conflicts.
He defended an announcement last week he will remain as executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice and said won't have anything to do with the management of his businesses.
Trump said his executives and children will run his company.
"I am turning down billions of dollars of deals," he said. "I will tell you, running for president -- the money I spent is peanuts compared to the money I won't make, and that's OK, because this is so important. ... This is a calling."
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