After initially dismissing a CIA assessment that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election to swing the vote his way, Donald Trump will accept those findings if the intelligence agency and the FBI are in agreement, one of his surrogates said Sunday.
“I think he would accept the conclusion if they would get together, put out a report and show the American people they are on the same page,” Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus, who is slated to become White House chief of staff in Trump's administration, said on Fox News Sunday.
That's a turn-around from just a week before, when on the same show, Trump claimed, “they have no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody...it could be somebody sitting in a bed some place,”
When news of the CIA's assessment first broke nearly two weeks ago, Trump called into question the reliability of the intelligence, tweeting, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
He continued to express doubt that hacks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other organizations and people affiliated with Trump's opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should be attributed to Russian hackers and hinted that opponents were playing partisan politics. "Unless you catch ‘hackers' in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn't this brought up before election?" Trump tweeted.
The specter of Russia being behind the hacks was repeatedly raised during the campaign, finding its way to the stage in all three debates.
Various members of Congress have called for bipartisan investigations of Russia's meddling in the election and President Obama has asked the intelligence community to conduct a thorough probe into the matter, delivering a full report before he leaves office in January.
“When I receive a final report, you know, we'll be able to, I think, give us a comprehensive and best guess as to those motivations,” Obama said. “But that does not in any way, I think, detract from the basic point that everyone during the election perceived accurately — that in fact what the Russian hack had done was create more problems for the Clinton campaign than it had for the Trump campaign."
Obama also claimed to have spoken bluntly about the allegations with Russian President Vladmir Putin during the G-20 summit in China in September, telling NPR that he told the Russian leader to “cut it out.” After that conversation, Obama said, the attacks subsided.
But DNC Chairman Donna Brazile took issue with that claim. “No, they did not stop. They came after us absolutely every day until the end of the election,” she said on ABC This Week. “They tried to hack into our system repeatedly.”