U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said he didn't believe reports that intelligence agencies concluded Russia intervened in the presidential election on his behalf, according to an interview broadcast on "Fox News Sunday."
"I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it," Trump said in the interview, taped on Saturday. He blamed Democrats for putting out the media reports and said he did believe they came from the Central Intelligence Agency.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told Reuters on Friday that intelligence agencies have concluded with "high confidence" that not only did their Russian counterparts direct the hacking of Democratic Party organizations and leaders, but they did so to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump said foreign governments or other parties may have tried to influence the election through hacking, but it didn’t affect the results.
“We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College,” Trump told Wallace.
Trump’s margin in the Electoral College, 306 to 232, was smaller than that amassed by President Barack Obama in his 2008 and 2012 wins.
Trump said the intelligence community is split on whether Russia or other governments were the sources behind leaked e-mails involving Hillary Clinton before the election, and that Democratic lawmakers were trying to use information from private CIA briefings to discredit his victory.
“Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting,” Trump said in his first appearance on a Sunday talk show since the election. “Once they hack, if you don’t catch them in the act you’re not going to catch them. They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.”
"Personally, it could be Russia. It -- I don’t really think it is, but who knows? I don’t know either. They don’t know and I don’t know," he added.
Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming leader of Democrats in the Senate, urged Congress on Saturday to investigate “simultaneously stunning and not surprising” claims that Russian hacking was designed to boost Trump and damage Democratic candidate Clinton.
Trump also said he’s “very, very close” to naming his secretary of state, and lauded Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson, who’s emerged as the front-runner, as “much more than a business executive.”
“I have someone in mind that I think will be really fabulous,” Trump said.
Trump called Tillerson, who has been Exxon’s chief executive officer for a decade, “a world-class player” while stopping short of saying he would be offered the job. Exxon Mobil Corp. is “unbelievably managed,” Trump said, according to a transcript provided by the network.
The president-elect praised others under consideration to be the top U.S. diplomat, including 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, yet seemed to be leaning toward the 64-year-old Texan.
“When you ask me about Rex, I mean, he’s a world-class player. There’s no question about it.”
“A great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well,” Trump said. “He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company -- not for himself, for the company."
Tillerson has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin that go back almost two decades. That connection could make him a useful bridge between the Russian leader and Trump, who has repeatedly said he’d seek a more cooperative relationship with Moscow.
© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.