President-elect Donald Trump said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that as president, he will not take the daily intelligence briefings that his presidential predecessors have received.
Trump told Fox News host Chris Wallace that the few briefings he has received during his transition have been repetitive, and he would take the briefings “when I need it” during his time in office. He said Vice President-elect Mike Pence would receive the briefings instead, along with two of his cabinet picks, retired generals James Mattis and John Kelly.
“You know, I’m, like, a smart person,” he said. “I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years — but eight years. I don’t need that.”
“But, I do say, if something should change, let us know.”
Trump said he considered the people giving the briefings to be “very good people” and said he would be open to additional briefings depending on the situation.
Trump also said he believed reports of Russian interference and hacking during the presidential election are unfounded, and he does not believe the intelligence community’s assessment and findings. Trump placed the blame for the reports on Democrats, who he said were embarrassed about losing the election.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse,” Trump said. “I don’t believe it.”
It has also been reported that the Obama administration and several members of Congress were aware of Russian meddling in the election, but did not take sufficient action to heighten awareness and potentially stop any activity.
Trump’s stance on Russian hacking pits him against Republicans in Congress who firmly believe the evidence of Russian interference is clear based on intelligence reports. A bipartisan group of four senators, including John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jack Reed (D-RI) released a statement Sunday calling for the formation of a select committee to investigate Russian activity and interference related to the election.
“It’s clear the Russians interfered,” McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“Now, whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s a subject of investigation.”
McCain said a Russian attempt at trying to sway the election wouldn’t be out of character.
“The Russians have interfered in a lot of other elections,” McCain said. He explained that hacking has been used before as a tool “as part of Vladimir Putin’s ambition to regain Russian prominence and dominance in some parts of the world.”
When Wallace pressed Trump further on the matter, he said he did not believe the intelligence assessments because the agencies involved in the investigation are “fighting among themselves” and that they cannot come to an agreement on the extent and origin of the hacking.