President-elect Donald Trump escalated a fight with US spy agencies on Wednesday, just nine days before he takes over their command as president, and accused them of practices reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
The Republican said leaks from the intelligence community led to some US media outlets reporting unsubstantiated claims that he was caught in a compromising position in Russia.
“I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it's a disgrace, and I say that ... that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do,” Trump told a news conference in New York.
Trump acknowledged for the first time that Russia likely hacked the Democratic National Committee and the emails of top Democrats during the 2016 presidential election. “I think it was Russia,” he said, pointing out that other countries were also hacking the United States.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, called a dossier that makes salacious claims about him in Russia “fake news” and “phony stuff.”
Clapper issues statement
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he spoke with Trump on Wednesday evening and told the president-elect he did not believe the media leaks came from the intelligence community.
“I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security,” Clapper said in a statement.
He defended including the dossier in the intelligence report Trump received on Friday, saying “part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”
Clapper said he emphasized to Trump that the dossier was not produced by the US intelligence community and intelligence officials have not judged whether the information is reliable.
Tillerson differs with Trump on nukes
Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, former ExxonMobil head Rex Tillerson, assured senators Wednesday that the United States would continue striving for nuclear nonproliferation, a stance in conflict with some of the president-elect’s pronouncements.
During his presidential campaign, Trump raised the possibility of Japan and South Korea – both key US allies – arming themselves with nuclear weapons. And late last year, the president-elect revived the specter of a nuclear arms race, saying that the United States would respond in kind if any other nuclear power expanded its arsenal.
Yet Tillerson, in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that “one of the vital roles” for the State Department is “the pursuit of nuclear onproliferation.”
“We just simply cannot back away from our commitment to see a reduction in the number of these weapons on the planet,” said Tillerson, who was named by Trump late last year to succeed Secretary of State John Kerry.SHOW MORE