President-elect Donald Trump dismissed a brewing storm over Russian cyber meddling in the US election, rejecting as “ridiculous” US intelligence reports that Moscow tried to help him win the White House.
“I don’t believe it,” Trump said in a pre-recorded interview that was broadcast Sunday on Fox News.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said, putting it down as an attempt by Democrats to find an excuse for their embarrassing election loss.
In the interview Trump touched on other issues — questioning US commitment to the “one China policy” without concessions from Beijing, and hailing Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who is under consideration for secretary of state, as “a world class player.”
But the controversy over the latest US intelligence consensus on Russia and Trump’s skepticism of the findings dominated the conversation at a time of deepening political divisions over how to respond to the hacking attacks.
Two top Republican senators — John McCain and Lindsey Graham — joined leading Democrats Sunday in calling for greater public disclosure about “recent cyber attacks that have cut to the heart of our free society.”
“This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country,” they said in a joint statement with Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader in the Senate, and Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
They pledged to work across party lines to have the incidents investigated, but other Republicans said the evidence does not support the conclusions that the Russian meddling was aimed at helping Trump.
Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the hacking was definitely the work of the Russians.
“This was not China. This wasn’t a 400-pound guy in New Jersey or anyone else,” Schiff said, mocking similar comments Trump has made. “This was the Russians.”
Trump’s willingness to disregard the intelligence community’s “overwhelming evidence” was “extraordinarily damaging,” he said.