Trumps lambasts ‘fools’ who oppose better Russia ties
WASHINGTONU.S. President-elect Donald Trump condemned Russia critics on Jan. 7, calling those who oppose better relations with Moscow “stupid” people and “fools” in his latest Twitter tirade.
His attack comes a day after the Republican president-elect met the country’s leading intelligence agency chiefs - including the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and CIA chief John Brennan - who told him that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a vast cyberattack and leaking campaign aimed at helping install Trump in the White House.
“Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing,” he tweeted on Jan. 7. “Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad!”
“When I am President,” he added, “Russia will respect us far more than they do now and both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”
But the formal announcement of former Indiana Senator Dan Coats as Trump’s pick for U.S. director of national intelligence, also on the same day, may go at least a little toward reassuring those critical of Trump’s praise for Putin and desire to improve relations with Moscow.
A mild-mannered former ambassador to Germany who also served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Coats, 73, has been a vocal critic of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
He was widely tipped for the job coordinating 16 intelligence and security agencies - a position Trump may slim down.
“Dan has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community,” Trump said in a statement.
“If confirmed as Director of National Intelligence, he will provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration’s ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm.”
After their meeting with Trump on Jan. 6, about findings that undermine the legitimacy of his election, intelligence officials released a declassified report describing an unprecedented Russian cyberattack as part of an ongoing effort to subvert American democratic institutions.
Although Trump accepted the possibility that Moscow was involved in hacking U.S. targets including the Democratic National Committee, the president-elect held fast to his rejection of the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election.
He told the New York Times before the meeting that the accusations are part of a “political witch-hunt” against him.
He blamed Democrats for the hacking, accusing the Democratic National Committee of “gross negligence” in another series of tweets on Jan. 7.
“Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!”
Trump, who has ridiculed the country’s intelligence agencies, repeated his view that the findings show “absolutely no evidence” any hacking affected the election results. “Voting machines not touched!”
Moscow denies the hacking accusations.