Trump Thinks Russia Hacked DNC, Slams ‘Sick People’ For Salacious Kremlin Stories

Trump has denied he’s under the thumb of Russian president Putin. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

As the furor over a contentious piece of intel that alleged close ties between Donald Trump and Russia rages on, the billionaire president-elect admitted the hacks on the U.S.

Trump has denied he’s under the thumb of Russian president Putin. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

As the furor over a contentious piece of intel that alleged close ties between Donald Trump and Russia rages on, the billionaire president-elect admitted the hacks on the U.S. election were probably committed by the Russian government. His team also bit back, in his first press conference since winning the election, about the “salacious” stories linking him to the Kremlin.

Incoming vice president Mike Pence and head of comms Sean Spicer singled out Buzzfeed and CNN for their reporting. Trump himself, however, didn’t name any specific publications but labelled the reports a “disgrace,” whilst thanking other media for highlighting their doubts about the facts of the intel.

“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Trump said in response to a question about who he thought was behind the attack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), marking the first time he’s publicly made such an admission. His comments followed a briefing with the CIA, FBI and NSA last week. He quickly moved on to other hacks, including the massive breach of the Office of Personnel Management in 2015. “I think we get hacked by other people. When we lost 22m names, they didn’t make a big deal out of that. It was probably China.” He also slammed the DNC’s security, saying it was “totally open to be hacked,” adding that the RNC had not been breached despite attempts. That somewhat chimed with comments from FBI director James Comey, who said yesterday old email domains of the RNC were breached, but not the Trump campaign itself.

On the last day’s reporting, the president-elect added: “It’s all fake news, it’s phony stuff, it didn’t happen. It was gotten by opponents of ours… it was a group of opponents that got together, sick people, they put that crap together. Somebody released it, it should never have even entered paper.”

They were addressing allegations made in a memo that was reportedly sent last week to the president-elect and the outgoing Barack Obama, which claimed his team was communicating with Kremlin staff about the hack of the DNC amongst other issues in the lead up to the election. No one has been able to verify any of the allegations, which also suggested Russia was able to blackmail Trump and that the Kremlin had salacious information on the Republican chief that was being used as leverage. The memo was written by a British intelligence officer for opposition research, leading to further questions about its validity. It included one particularly prurient tale about Trump in a hotel room, to which the president-elect said he was “very much a germaphobe” and actively advised people to be careful in hotel rooms that likely had hidden cameras, during his time in Moscow for the Miss Universe competition.

Whilst most media outlets did not publish the memo, Buzzfeed chose to do so in full, leading to some criticism about the lack of verification. CNN was the first to break the news. Russia said it had no so-called kompromat (compromising information) on Trump, something the president-elect tweeted as part of a defense, itself an attack on the press.

Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017

Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017

“It is frankly outrageous for a left-wing blog… to drop highly salacious… information just days before he takes the oath of office,” said Spicer. He claimed both Buzzfeed and CNN were guilty of “a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.” “The report is not an intelligence report plain and simple,” he added.

Addressing claims Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Kremlin staff in Prague to discuss campaign lead Paul Manafort’s connection to the former pro-Russia Ukraine regime, Spicer said his team had looked at official travel documents and confirmed Cohen had never been to Prague.

Trump also indicated he suspected intelligence agencies of leaking the report to the press, adding that it would “be a tremendous blot on the intelligence agencies” if they did leak the report.

He expects any good relations with Russia to be a boon for America. “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset not a liability,” he said. “I don’t know I’ll get along with Vladmir Putin, there’s a good chance I won’t… but do you honestly believe Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Give me a break.”

Others have said America’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies wouldn’t have presented the incoming and outgoing presidents with the memo. Former NSA lawyer and Susan Hennessey said that if evidence emerged that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and committed crimes, it would amount to “the most shocking political scandal in American history.”

There may not be much time to complete a full investigation. Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th.

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