President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday tried to deflect attention from what the U.S. intelligence community has concluded was a Kremlin-ordered effort to influence the American election by blaming the Democratic National Committee.
Trump appeared to go to bed Friday and rise the next morning with the same goal: To steer media outlets away from an intel community report released Friday detailing Russian interference in the general election. The intelligence agencies believe the Russian government wanted to help his campaign while damaging Hillary Clinton’s.
His social media blasts are intended to shape media coverage. His pick for White House communications director and press secretary, Sean Spicer, on Wednesday evening offered a window into Trump’s tweeting, saying: “That’s what’s going to drive the news.”
In a late Friday night tweet, Trump blamed the hacking on “gross negligence” by DNC leaders.
Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place.The Republican National Committee had strong defense!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2017
Saturday morning, he defended the legitimacy of his election, saying that the investigation showed the vote count wasn’t affected by the hacks. But then he seemed to plant a seed for media outlets with a little victim-blaming, painting Democrats as sore losers.
Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2017
Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2017
Interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile has not replied for a request for comment.
In a Dec. 29 statement, she urged congressional Republicans and Democrats to “to launch a thorough, independent, and bipartisan investigation on the Russian government’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 election.”
“Unfortunately, President-elect Donald Trump has denied the facts and demonstrated a disdain for the Intelligence Community, skipping intelligence briefings and dismissing evidence of Russian influence,” she said. “He must take the threat of foreign meddling in our elections seriously and Congress has a duty to give the American people a full account of Russia's assault on our democracy.”
The Saturday morning tweets followed the release of a report by U.S. intelligence agencies that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign aimed at undermining the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Putin-ordered effort was intended to boost Trump’s campaign and discredit Clinton, which included hacking DNC emails.
The report spells out multiple agencies’ findings that the Kremlin conducted a wide-ranging program to influence American voters.
It was not immediately clear that a few 140-character posts from the president-elect would deflect from the report, which Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Ben Cardin, D-Md., called a “political Pearl Harbor.”
The report concluded, “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.”
House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Friday in a statement that Trump’s position that the Russian hacking had no effect on the outcome of the election “is not supported by the briefing, report, or common sense.”
“It is one thing to say that there was no tampering with vote tallying — which is true — it is another thing to say that the daily dumping of documents disparaging to Secretary Clinton that was made possible by Russian cyber operations had no effect on the campaigns,” he added.
As U.S. intelligence officials, the Obama administration and lawmakers from both parties warn about an escalating threat from Russia, Trump on Saturday reiterated his plans, once in office, to cozy up to the Kremlin. In a tweet several hours later, the incoming president said that only “stupid” people would oppose closer U.S.-Russian relations.
Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only "stupid" people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2017
He also said under his administration, the two countries would partner on global challenges, breaking with a wide swath of past and present U.S. officials, lawmakers and foreign policy experts.
have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now and....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2017
both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2017
— Ryan Lucas contributed to this report.