Trump says only ‘stupid’ people, fools oppose better Russia ties
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 put him in 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 under President Obama’s.
Trump has repeatedly questioned the assessment by US intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the 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 Trump in his race against Hillary Clinton.
Trump 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 US politics and policymaking.
Immediately after the Nov. 8 election, Russia began a ‘‘spear-phishing’’ campaign to try to trick people into revealing their e-mail passwords, targeting US 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 e-mail accounts of the Democratic National Committee and individual Democrats, among them Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
The unclassified version said Russian government provided e-mails to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks even though the website’s founder, Julian Assange, has denied that it got the e-mails it released from the Russian government. The report noted that the e-mails 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.
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 on the election on his behalf.
After finally seeing the intelligence behind the claims of the 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 US 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 US may have traced back to Russia in its investigations. Exactly how the US 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 it ‘‘does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.’’ It said its conclusions were identical to the more detailed classified version.