Trump Says Hacking Had "Absolutely No Effect" on Election Outcome After Intel Briefing
The president-elect was briefed by the nation's top intelligence officials on the alleged Russian hacking Friday, a meeting he called "constructive."
Donald Trump was briefed Friday by top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials who presented their report on the alleged Russian hacking and the government's involvement in the U.S. presidential election.
The president-elect, however, continued to dismiss Russia's involvement in the presidential election.
"While 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 National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines," Trump said in a statement Friday afternoon.
In his statement, which was released after the briefing concluded, Trump said he will be seeking a plan to combat cyberattacks within 90 days of taking office.
“Whether it is our government, organizations, associations or businesses we need to aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks," he said in the statement. "I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office. The methods, tools and tactics we use to keep America safe should not be a public discussion that will benefit those who seek to do us harm."
He added of his upcoming inauguration on Jan. 20, "Two weeks from today I will take the oath of office and America’s safety and security will be my number one priority.”
Ahead of the briefing, Trump, who had yet to see the intelligence, had publicly dismissed the findings that Russia meddled in the Nov. 8 election, which saw an unexpected victory by Trump.
Before Trump was briefed, NBC released information about the hacking regarding the identities of Russian officials who passed the hacked DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Trump said on Twitter that he will ask Congress to investigate how the report leaked to NBC prior to him seeing it.
Earlier in the day, Trump called the focus on the Russian hacking a "political witch hunt" being carried out by his adversaries in an interview with the New York Times. In a phone interview three hours before the briefing, Trump continued to blame Democrats and Clinton's loss: "They got beaten very badly in the election. I won more counties in the election than Ronald Reagan ... They are very embarrassed about it. To some extent, it’s a witch hunt. They just focus on this.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey briefed Trump at his Manhattan Trump Tower after presenting their report to senior lawmakers Friday morning and to President Barack Obama on Thursday.
A declassified version of the report was released publicly by U.S. officials later on Friday. The report said Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered" an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.
According to the Associated Press, the 25-page report says that the Russian government developed a "clear preference" for Trump and that the goal of Moscow's meddling was to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process and denigrate Clinton by harming her electability and potential presidency.
The efforts are Moscow's most recent in its longstanding desire to undermine the U.S., but the acts are significantly larger compared with past operations, the report says.
In December, Clinton said the cyberattack was a result of Putin's "personal beef" against her and that the Russians sought to "undermine our democracy."
Jan. 6, 4:35 p.m. ET: Updated with declassified report.