Trump Uses Julian Assange to Cast Doubt on Russian Hacking Intel: "Why Was DNC So Careless?"

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Donald Trump

Trump continued his tweetstorm Wednesday by arguing the DNC did not have a "hacking defense" and by quoting the WikiLeaks founder.

Donald Trump is using WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's case that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 election.

And he's suggesting the DNC is to blame for the hacking of its computers and emails, including those of top Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta.

Trump continued his tweetstorm Wednesday by arguing the DNC did not have a "hacking defense" and questioning why the Democratic Party had not responded "to the terrible things they did and said." He appeared to be referring to information in the DNC emails that was made public and led to the resignation of the DNC chairwoman and other officials.

"Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' — why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" Trump tweeted early Wednesday.

Trump first misspelled the founder's name as "Julian Assuage" and quickly deleted the tweet.

It was a striking spectacle for the incoming president to give credibility to Assange, whose organization has been under criminal investigation for its role in classified information leaks. Assange has said his source for the hacked emails WikiLeaks published during the campaign was not a government, but his assertion has left open the possibility they came from a third party.

Assange appeared on Fox News on Tuesday night with Sean Hannity, where he declared again that the Russians were not behind the cyber attack. 

The American intelligence community and Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill insist that Russia was behind the hacks, but Trump has repeatedly dismissed that allegation, challenging the intelligence experts who will help him make the weightiest possible decisions once he becomes president Jan. 20. Trump has insisted that the government doesn't really know who's behind the attacks. He has said he'll release more information this week.

In a series of tweets Tuesday and early Wednesday, Trump wrote without evidence that the timing of an upcoming intelligence briefing on suspected Russian interference in the 2016 election had been delayed. "...perhaps more time needed to build a case."

"Very strange!" he wrote, using quote marks around the word "intelligence."

Trump's tweets, in line with repeated criticism of his nation's intelligence leaders, caused confusion among intelligence officials, who said there was no delay in the briefing schedule.

The fresh clash came as Trump took further steps to fill his Cabinet and key White House positions, with his attention shifting toward the challenges of governing.

Trump's plans for repealing President Barack Obama's signature health care law were expected to be the focus when Vice President-elect Mike Pence and secretary of state choice Rex Tillerson met with top Republicans on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

After the meeting, Pence told reporters Trump's "first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare" and "replace it with solutions that lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government." Adding that Americans "voted decisively for a better future for health care in this country, and we are determined to give them that."

Though he did not specify, Pence said Trump's team was already working with GOP congressional leaders on plans to undo Obama's law.

Trump had warned congressional Republicans on Wednesday against letting Democrats dodge blame for problems with Obama's health care overhaul, even as the GOP-led Congress takes initial steps toward dismantling the law.

"Massive increases of ObamaCare will take place this year and Dems are to blame for the mess," the president-elect said in three tweets, using the statute's nickname. "It will fall of its own weight — be careful!"

Trump's advice came as Obama was meeting with congressional Democrats at the Capitol to discuss how to combat the Republican drive to repeal much of his health care overhaul.

In the closed-door meeting, Obama urged Democrats to not "rescue" Republicans by helping them pass replacement measures, according to CNN. He also floated the idea that they start referring to the GOP's new plan as "Trumpcare."

"In two weeks I will no longer be a politician, but I'll still be a citizen. I envy you so much right now, because I would love to be on the field," said Obama.

He also told his fellow Democrats to "keep up the fight" and "look out for the American people."

In his tweets, Trump blamed the statute for high deductibles, premium boosts and poor coverage and wrote that Democrats "own the failed ObamaCare disaster." He added, "Don't let the Schumer clowns out of this web." The new Senate minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, has been a leading defender of Obama's 2010 overhaul.

Trump pledged during the presidential campaign to erase Obama's law, though he's said he wants to retain popular provisions like ensuring coverage for people with preexisting medical problems.

Obama's and Pence's strategy sessions were coming on the second day of the new, GOP-led Congress.

The president-elect said late Tuesday he will hold his first formal news conference since his Nov. 8 election victory next week in New York. He has already waited longer than any other president-elect in the modern era to hold his first exchange with journalists. Most have held such events within days of their election.

It was unclear if the news conference would be the venue for his delayed announcement on how he plans to avoid potential conflicts of interest involving his businesses after taking office. Transition officials said multiple topics could be covered, but would not specifically say whether they included Trump's businesses. Trump was supposed to detail the arrangements at a mid-December news conference, but postponed the event.

His Cabinet nearly full, Trump also picked a handful of new White House aides. Omarosa Manigault, a contestant from the first season of The Apprentice, is expected to focus on public engagement in the White House.

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