Trump: Only ‘stupid’ people, fools oppose better Russia ties

  • A part of the declassified version Intelligence Community Assessment on Russia's efforts to interfere with the U.S. political process is photographed in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the American presidential election in favor of electing Donald Trump, according to the report issued by U.S. intelligence agencies. The unclassified version was the most detailed public account to date of Russian efforts to interfere with the U.S. political process, with actions that included hacking into the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and individual Democrats like Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) Jon Elswick

  • The first page of the Joint Analysis Report narrative by the Department of Homeland Security and federal Bureau of Investigation and released on Dec. 29, 2016, is photographed in Washington, Jan. 6, 2017. Computer security specialists say the technical details in the narrative that the U.S. said would show whether computers had been infiltrated by Russian intelligence services were poorly done and potentially dangerous. Cybersecurity firms ended up counseling their customers to proceed with extreme caution after a slew of false positives led back to sites such as Amazon and Yahoo Inc. Companies and organizations were following the government’s advice Dec. 29 and comparing digital logs recording incoming network traffic to their computers and finding matches to a list of hundreds of internet addresses the Homeland Security Department had identified as indicators of malicious Russian intelligence services cyber activity. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) Jon Elswick

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    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens to questions while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: "Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci

Associated Press
Published: 1/7/2017 10:31:10 PM

President-elect Donald Trump said Saturday that “only ‘stupid’ people or fools” would dismiss closer ties with Russia, and he seemed unswayed after his classified briefing on an intelligence report that accused Moscow of meddling on his behalf in the election that catapulted him to power.

“Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

He added, “We have enough problems without yet another one,” and said Russians would respect “us far more” under his administration than they do with Barack Obama in the White House.

Trump repeatedly has questioned the assessment by American intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election, and a classified report presented to him Friday seemed to have little changed his thinking.

The report explicitly tied Russian President Vladimir Putin to election meddling and said that Moscow had a “clear preference” for Republican Trump in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But Trump tweeted that with the many global issues confronting the United States, it doesn’t need testy ties with Russia on the list. “Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad” to have a good relationship, he said, and suggested his approach might allow the adversaries to work together to solve “some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”

Even as intelligences officials looked back in their reports on the election, they also made a troublesome prediction: Russia isn’t done intruding in U.S. politics and policymaking.

Immediately after the Nov. 8 election, Russia began a “spear-phishing” campaign to try to trick people into revealing their email passwords, targeting U.S. government employees and think tanks that specialize in national security, defense and foreign policy, the report said.

The report was the most detailed public account to date of Russian efforts to hack the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and individual Democrats, among them Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The unclassified version said Russian government provided emails to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks even though the website’s founder, Julian Assange, has denied that it got the emails it released from the Russian government. The report noted that the emails could have been passed through middlemen.

Russia also used state-funded propaganda and paid “trolls” to make nasty comments on social media services, the report said. Moreover, intelligence officials believe that Moscow will apply lessons learned from its activities in the election to put its thumbprint on future elections in the United States and allied nations.

The public report was minus classified details that intelligence officials shared with President Obama on Thursday.

In a brief interview with the Associated Press on Friday, Trump said he “learned a lot” from his discussions with intelligence officials, but he declined to say whether he accepted their assertion that Russia had intruded in the election on his behalf.

After finally seeing the intelligence behind the claims of the outgoing Obama administration, Trump released a one-page statement that did not address whether Russia sought to meddle. Instead, he said, “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election” and that there “was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

Intelligence officials have never made that claim. And the report stated that the Department of Homeland Security did not think that the systems that were targeted or compromised by Russian actors were “involved in vote tallying.”

The report released publicly lacked details about how the U.S. learned what it said it knows, such as any intercepted conversations or electronic messages among Russian leaders, including Putin, or about specific hacker techniques or digital tools the U.S. may have traced back to Russia in its investigations. Exactly how the U.S. monitors its adversaries in cyberspace is a closely guarded secret. Revealing such details could help foreign governments further obscure their activities.




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