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 TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada 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.

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“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 Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe 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 ClintonTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE’s path to the nomination at the expense of her opponent, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump rips 'ridiculous' spending bill | FBI dragged into new fight | Latest on Maryland shooting Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 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.