U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, two weeks from taking office, is mocking his political opponents, criticizing the country’s mainstream news media and continuing to question the U.S. intelligence finding that Russia meddled in the presidential election.
Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul turned Republican politician, asked in a string of Twitter comments Wednesday why the Democratic National Committee was “so careless” that thousands of emails of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s losing presidential campaign, were hacked and why the party did not have “hacking defense” like the Republican National Committee did.
The Podesta emails often revealed embarrassing details of the behind-the-scenes effort to help Clinton, a former U.S. Secretary of State, win the Democratic presidential nomination before she ultimately lost the November national election to Trump.
The president-elect quoted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid facing sexual assault charges in Sweden, as saying that “a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta” and “also said Russians did not give him the info!”
WikiLeaks released thousands of the Podesta emails in the days leading up to the November 8 election, but has not revealed its source for the information.
Trump, set to be inaugurated January 20, also assailed Democrats for not responding to revelations in the emails, which he described as “terrible things they did and said.” He cited one instance in which a question was leaked to Clinton ahead of a primary election debate she had with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whom she defeated for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The incident was widely reported last year, but Trump called it a “total double standard! Media, as usual, gave them a pass.” He quoted Assange as calling U.S. media coverage “very dishonest,” and conservative talk show host Sean Hannity as saying, “more dishonest than anyone knows.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina refuted Trump’s claim tweeting that Assange is not to be trusted because he has “a record of undermining the United States.”
On Tuesday, Trump used his Twitter account to allege an intelligence briefing “on so-called ‘Russian hacking'” had been delayed until Friday.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security released a joint report last week blaming Russia’s intelligence agencies for hacks intended to influence the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor.
President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on two Russian agencies, expelled 35 Moscow agents from the United States and closed two facilities in the U.S. housing Russian operations.
Trump has cast doubt on the conclusions and suggested his briefing from U.S. intelligence agencies had been delayed because “more time [is] needed to build a case. Very strange!”
Central Intelligence Agency chief John Brennan told the Public Broadcasting Service, “I would suggest to individuals that have not yet seen the report, who have not yet been briefed on it, that they wait and see what it is that the intelligence community is putting forward before they make those judgments.”
One U.S. official told VOA on the condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity about the president-elect’s intelligence briefings, “There was no delay” in briefing him.
“He does receive routine intelligence briefings,” the official added, indicating Trump was briefed Tuesday though there might have been a “disconnect” regarding Trump’s expectations for the briefing as opposed to the information.
Last week’s statement from U.S. security officials expanded on the intelligence community’s public assertion in October that Russia directed the hacks of U.S. officials and political organizations and the subsequent leaks of the material to websites like DCLeaks.comand WikiLeaks.
The statement blamed the activity on Russian intelligence services and said it was “part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. Government and its citizens.”
However, a comprehensive review of the alleged Russian hacking activities, ordered by Obama, has not yet been completed.
The U.S. official said the finished review would first be shared with Obama, and only then could it be shared with the president-elect.