U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has accepted U.S. intelligence community’s findings that Russia was behind the cyber attacks targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Trump’s team said on Sunday.
“He’s not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular campaign,” said incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in an interview with FOX News. “He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia. So, that’s not the issue.”
Priebus did not clarify whether Trump agreed that the Russian hacking was intended to help him win.
It is the first time for any senior official from Trump’s transition team to acknowledge that after months of denial and sometimes even disparagement of the U.S. intelligence community, Trump had agreed that Russians were responsible for the hacking that led to the leaking of damaging material which dogged Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton till the Election Day.
The U.S. intelligence released a report on Friday, making public its assessment of alleged Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election last year.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the report said, adding that Moscow’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.
“We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” it said. “We have high confidence in these judgments.”
The report said Moscow’s action was part of its “longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order,” and demonstrated a “significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort.”