Trump: Intel agencies blaming Russia for DNC hack was politically driven

Trump: Intel agencies blaming Russia for DNC hack was politically driven
© Greg Nash

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE is insisting hackers linked to Russia were not involved in attacks against Democratic political targets, months after U.S. intelligence officials took the extraordinary step of fingering Moscow publicly.

That determination, Trump told Time magazine, was likely politically motivated.

“I think so,” he told the magazine, which on Wednesday named him Person of the Year.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they interfered.”

The president-elect's allegation that the nation’s vast web of intelligence agencies conspired to achieve a political outcome is a remarkable charge that is likely to be met with deep animosity within the intelligence community.

Spy agency officials have privately complained about being dismissed and ignored by Trump since his unexpected election last month. In the weeks since Election Day, Trump's transition team has acknowledged he has been present for only a handful of daily intelligence briefings, a much lower rate than his predecessors. For his critics, the omissions are even more worrying given his lack of virtually any national security or foreign policy experience.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam SchiffOvernight Tech: Facebook, Twitter to testify before Senate | EU orders Amazon to pay 0M in back taxes | Reddit hires first lobbyists Facebook, Twitter will testify at Senate hearing Schiff: Almost all RT ads on Twitter designed to push negative coverage of Clinton MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, claimed that the president-elect’s remarks “continue to contradict our intelligence professionals and carry water for the Kremlin.”

Trump has displayed an unusual affinity to Russian President Vladimir Putin, causing critics to worry about his willingness to defer to the autocratic leader. His repeated insistence on clearing Russia of the hacking allegations will likely further inflame those concerns.

In October, the Department of Homeland Security and the nation’s 17 federal intelligence agencies claimed that hacks against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other groups were authorized by “Russia's senior-most officials” as part of a broad campaign to influence the U.S. elections.

“It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey,” Trump told Time. “I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.”

Emails stolen from the DNC and made public on the eve of the Democratic National Convention appeared to show a concerted effort to support Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE’s path to the nomination at the expense of her opponent, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE (I-Vt.). The revelations fractured the party and caused the downfall of several senior DNC officials.

The revelation unnerved Americans and stirred deep distrust in the integrity of the U.S. political process. Despite the fears, however, there has been no credible allegation of widespread interference with election systems or voting processes.

Updated with additional information at 12:50 p.m.