Trump acknowledges Russia role in U.S.
election hacking: aide
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[January 09, 2017]
By Toni Clarke and Dustin Volz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect
Donald Trump accepts the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that
Russia engaged in cyber attacks during the U.S. presidential election
and may take action in response, his incoming chief of staff said on
Reince Priebus said Trump believed Russia was behind the intrusions into
the Democratic Party organizations, although Priebus did not clarify
whether the president-elect agreed that the hacks were directed by
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia,
so that's not the issue," Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday."
It was the first acknowledgment from a senior member of the Republican
president-elect's team that Trump had accepted that Russia directed the
hacking and subsequent disclosure of Democratic emails during the 2016
Trump had rebuffed allegations that Russia was behind the hacks or was
trying to help him win, saying the intrusions could have been carried
out by China or a 400-pound hacker on his bed.
With less than two weeks until his Jan. 20 inauguration, Trump has come
under increasing pressure from fellow Republicans to accept intelligence
community findings on Russian hacking and other attempts by Moscow to
influence the Nov. 8 election. A crucial test of Republican support for
Trump comes this week with the first confirmation hearings for his
A U.S. intelligence report last week said Putin directed a sophisticated
influence campaign including cyber attacks to denigrate Democratic
presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and support Trump.
The report, commissioned by Democratic President Barack Obama in
December, concluded vote tallies were not affected by Russian
interference, but did not assess whether it influenced the outcome of
the vote in other ways.
'ACTION MAY BE TAKEN'
After receiving a briefing on Friday from leaders of the U.S.
intelligence agencies, Trump did not refer specifically to Russia's role
in the presidential campaign.
In a statement, he acknowledged that "Russia, China, other countries,
outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the
cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and
organizations including the Democrat(ic) National Committee."
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told Reuters the president-elect's
conclusions remained the same and that Priebus' comments were in line
with Friday's statement.
Priebusí wording did not appear to foreshadow the dramatic reversal of
Trumpís apparent Russia policy that experts say would be required to
deter further cyber attacks.
ďIt will take a lot more than what we heard on television today to make
Putin cool it,Ē the expert added. ďIn fact, there may not be anything
that can deter Putin from pursuing a course heís bet his future and
Russiaís on,Ē said a U.S. intelligence expert on Russia, speaking on
condition of anonymity to discuss domestic political positions.
The expert added that Putin's "multifaceted campaign of cyber attacks
and espionage, propaganda, financial leverage, fake news and traditional
espionage" had expanded in the United States since the election, "and it
will be a shock if it does not escalate in France, Germany and elsewhere
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Trump (C) exits One World Trade Center following a meeting in
Manhattan, New York City, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas
Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman Trump
tapped as White House chief of staff, said Trump planned to order
the intelligence community to make recommendations as to what should
be done. "Action may be taken," he said, adding there was nothing
wrong with trying to have a good relationship with Russia and other
Two senior Republican senators urged Trump to punish Russia in
response to U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusion that Putin
personally directed efforts aimed at influencing the election.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Senators Lindsey Graham and
John McCain said evidence was conclusive that Putin sought to
influence the election - a point that Trump has refuted.
"In a couple weeks, Donald Trump will be the defender of the free
world and democracy," Graham said. "You should let everybody know in
America, Republicans and Democrats, that you're going to make Russia
pay a price for trying to interfere."
On Saturday, Trump wrote on Twitter that having a better
relationship with Russia was a "good thing."
U.S. Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the
House Intelligence Committee, said three U.S. presidents had tried
and failed to be friends with Putin.
"Iím just not sure itís possible," Nunes said on the "Fox News
Sunday" program. "Iíve cautioned his administration to be careful
with Putin, as he remains a bad actor."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed it was not unusual for
a new president to want to get along with the Russians. He added on
CBS, however, that the Russians remained a "big adversary, and they
demonstrated it by trying to mess around in our election."
Obama, who himself tried to "reset" relations with Russia after he
took office in 2009, told NBC he did not think he had underestimated
the Russian president.
"But I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new
information age, it is possible for misinformation for cyber hacking
and so forth to have an impact on our open societies, our open
systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in
ways that I think are accelerating," he said in an interview with
"Meet the Press" broadcast on Sunday.
(Additional reporting and writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Caren
Bohan and Peter Cooney)
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