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)
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)
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)

NEW YORK — 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 Barack 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.

The unclassified version included footnotes acknowledging that it "does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign." It said its conclusions were identical to the classified version, which was more detailed.

The unclassified report said the Russian effort was both political and personal.

"Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency," it said. "We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

Putin most likely wanted to discredit Clinton because he blames her for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he resents her for disparaging comments she has made about him, the report said.

Before the intelligence agencies completed their assessment, Obama announced sanctions against Russia. Trump has not said whether he will undo them once he takes office, but lawmakers are calling for more punitive measures against Russia and have little to no appetite to roll back any current sanctions.

Trump said he would appoint a team within three months of taking office to develop a plan to "aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks."

On Saturday, he said he wanted retired Sen. Dan Coats to be national intelligence director, describing the former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee as the right person to lead the new administration's "ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm."

Coats, in a statement released by Trump's transition team, said: "There is no higher priority than keeping America safe, and I will utilize every tool at my disposal to make that happen."

___

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann, Eileen Sullivan, Julie Pace, Eric Tucker, Chad Day and Jack Gillum contributed to this report.

You may also interested in

Trump meets Putin: Talk of positive results, not of election

Jul 7, 2017

At long last face to face, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are voicing confidence that their historic first meeting would pave the way for a positive trajectory for their two countries

Thailand bombings: A look at who may have been responsible

Aug 13, 2016

In the aftermath of a coordinated wave of bombings that shook tourist resort towns in Thailand this week, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's military government is scrambling to hunt down those responsible

More speed, but will Formula One be more of the same?

Mar 23, 2017

New regulations mean the cars should be faster and the competition more intense, yet most expectations at the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix are for Lewis Hamilton to win another title for Mercedes

People also read these

Trump meets Putin: Talk of positive results, not of election

Jul 7, 2017

At long last face to face, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are voicing confidence that their historic first meeting would pave the way for a positive trajectory for their two countries

Thailand bombings: A look at who may have been responsible

Aug 13, 2016

In the aftermath of a coordinated wave of bombings that shook tourist resort towns in Thailand this week, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's military government is scrambling to hunt down those responsible

More speed, but will Formula One be more of the same?

Mar 23, 2017

New regulations mean the cars should be faster and the competition more intense, yet most expectations at the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix are for Lewis Hamilton to win another title for Mercedes