President-elect Donald Trump is continuing to resist conclusions reached by US intelligence agencies on Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and on Saturday defended his long-held belief that closer ties with Russia would be good for the US.
Trump’s comments come one day after he received intelligence stating that the Russian government hacked Democratic Party groups and individuals during the election, and that Moscow acted to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign to benefit Trump.
“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 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 both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!” Trump tweeted.
The US intelligence community concluded in a report publicly released Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to harm Clinton’s chances of being elected president.
The campaign consisted of hacking Democrats, including Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, before releasing that information via third-party websites, including WikiLeaks.
The intelligence report cited “a significant escalation” in longtime Russian efforts to undermine the American democratic process.
Trump, however, has insisted Russia did not have an impact on the election results. Earlier Saturday, Trump tweeted, “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched.”
Trump said Democrats are focusing on the hacking so intensely out of embarrassment.
“Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place. The Republican National Committee had strong defense,” he tweeted Friday night.
“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,” Trump added on Twitter.
However, the intelligence noted multiple avenues in which Russia attempted to make sure Clinton lost. And the US intelligence community released several new pieces of information to support its conclusions Friday.
“Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations — such as cyberactivity — with overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries and paid social media users or ‘trolls,’ ” the report found.
Trump has repeatedly said that he wants to soften the harsh relationship between the US and Russia and has repeatedly praised Putin’s leadership style. On the campaign trail, Trump would often ask “wouldn’t it be great” if the US and Russia “got along.”