Speed Reads

eyes on russia

Donald Trump deems America the 'hacking capital of the world' while brushing off Russia scandal

Three hours before President-elect Donald Trump was due to meet Friday with top U.S. intelligence officials about the Russian hacks during last year's presidential election, he slammed the entire scandal as "a political witch hunt" in a telephone interview with The New York Times.

The FBI and CIA have accused Russia of interfering in the U.S. election in a way that benefited Trump. Trump has dismissed their reports, citing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and blamed the intense scrutiny around his election on bitter rivals. "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."

Trump additionally complained that the U.S. has been hacked before, and that those attacks didn't receive the same uproar as the attacks on the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. He cited one example, from late 2014 and early 2015, when China hacked the computers of the Office of Personnel Management. "With all that being said, I don't want countries to be hacking our country," Trump went on. "They've hacked the White House. They've hacked Congress. We're like the hacking capital of the world."

The president-elect also tweeted Friday that he is asking "the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it." The tweet was apparently a reference to a "senior U.S. intelligence official" who told NBC about information in the classified intelligence report delivered to President Barack Obama on Thursday, the same report Trump will be briefed on this afternoon; the official revealed that senior Russian officials celebrated Trump's win as their own victory. An unclassified version of the report will be released to the public Friday afternoon, the official said.