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Thursday, January 12, 2017, 12:02

Trump says for first time: I think Russia hacked Dems

By Associated Press

Trump says for first time: I think Russia hacked Dems
US President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Jan 11, 2017. (Evan Vucci / AP)
WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump speculated Wednesday that US intelligence agencies might have leaked details about a classified briefing with him that included unsubstantiated allegations that Russia had collected compromising sexual and financial information about him .

He said any such information was not true: "It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen."

As far as hacking, I think it was Russia…But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people

Donald Trump, US President-elect

"I think it's pretty sad when intelligence reports get leaked out to the press," Trump said.

Trump was referring to a dossier that contained unproven information about close coordination between Trump's inner circle and Russians, including details about Russian hacking into Democratic accounts as well as unsubstantiated claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump, attributed to anonymous sources. The Associated Press has not authenticated any of the claims.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said later Wednesday that he had spoken with Trump about the dossier and told him the intelligence community "has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable."

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Clapper also said in a statement released Wednesday night that he told Trump he does not believe any leaks from Friday's meeting between intelligence officials and the president-elect came from the intelligence community.

On Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey refused to say whether the FBI was investigating any possible ties between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign, citing a policy not to comment on what the FBI might or might not be doing.

A summary of the allegations was included as an add-on to a classified assessment of Russia's suspected election-interference efforts. That classified report tied Russian President Vladimir Putin to the hacking of email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and individual Democrats, including Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

Trump acknowledged Wednesday, for the first time, that he believed Russia was responsible for the hacking.

"As far as hacking, I think it was Russia," Trump said. "But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people."

Trump condemned what he said was "maybe" leaks by US intelligence agencies.

It would be a "tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that. A tremendous blot, because a thing like that should have never been written, it should never have been had and it should certainly never been released," Trump said at a news conference.

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He likened the release to Nazi Germany, saying it is "disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information — that turned out to be so false and fake — out."

The CIA and the office of the director of national intelligence declined to comment. Although they had not been able to verify details in the dossier, the belief in the intelligence community was that it needed to be shared with Trump, given how many media outlets were already aware of the file.

The briefing about the separate dossier was first reported Tuesday by CNN.

The unsubstantiated dossier on Trump, which has been circulating in Washington for months, was compiled by a former Western intelligence operative, identified Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal as Christopher Steele of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. Efforts to reach him or the company for comment were not immediately successful.

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