President-elect Donald Trump released a statement on Friday afternoon after being briefed by intelligence officials about Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
In the statement, Trump emphasizes that no foreign entity tampered with voting machines on Election Day. He also says that there have been hacking attempts by “Russia, China, other countries,” taking the emphasis off of Russia, the only country that members of U.S. intelligence have pointed to as being responsible for hacking into the Democratic National Committee.
This comes after days of Trump publicly doubting the conclusions of intelligence officials, accusing them on Twitter of putting off the meeting to build a better case and derisively putting “Intelligence” and “Russian hacking” in quotes. According to NBC News, this meeting was always scheduled for Friday. In the statement released today, Trump states that he has “tremendous respect” for the work that U.S. officials do. On Thursday, Trump said on Twitter that the media “lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”
Trump met for two hours today with Director of National Security James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and FBI Director James Comey. Clapper said this week that only Russia’s most senior officials could have authorized the hack of the Democratic National Committee. However, Clapper said that there is no evidence Russia changed any vote tallies.
Trump has repeatedly either downplayed or outright dismissed the conclusions of U.S. intelligence, saying in an interview with The New York Times on Friday that the focus on Russian hacking is a political witch hunt.
“They got beaten very badly in the election. I won more counties in the election than Ronald Reagan,” Trump told the Times. “They are very embarrassed about it. To some extent, it’s a witch hunt. They just focus on this.”
Earlier this week, President-elect Trump claimed to know things about Russian hacking that nobody else knows.
“I know a lot about hacking,” Trump said. “And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”
Trump had promised to reveal what he knows “that other people don’t know” on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week; he did not do so.
Here is the full statement released by President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team:
I had a constructive meeting and conversation with the leaders of the Intelligence Community this afternoon. I have tremendous respect for the work and service done by the men and women of this community to our great nation.
“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. There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful.
Whether it is our government, organizations, associations or businesses we need to aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks. 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. Two weeks from today I will take the oath of office and America’s safety and security will be my number one priority.