President-Elect Donald Trump made clear on Sunday that he does not believe charges of Russian involvement in the 2016 race for President, telling Fox News Sunday that Democrats are behind such talk, arguing they are still aggravated by of Hillary Clinton’s election defeat.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump told Fox News Sunday.
“I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it.”
Asked about the CIA investigation, Trump again took a jab at the U.S. Intelligence Community.
“They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody else,” said Mr. Trump.
“It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea,” the President-Elect added.
But some within the Republican Party did not get on board with the White House winner, openly raising red flags about Russian hacking activities, led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“This cannot be a partisan matter,” Graham and McCain said, joined in a letter by the next Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).
“Don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what Russia is up to – they’re trying to undermine democracies all over the world,” Graham said this weekend.
“Russia is not our friend,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).
But as Mr. Trump has repeatedly said over the past year, he clearly wants to have closer ties with the Russians, not only to smooth diplomatic waters, but to increase trade and business investment.
The President-Elect’s expected choice for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, spearheaded his company’s oil exploration investments in Russia, receiving a special award from the government and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
And despite early criticism, Mr. Trump wasn’t backing down.
Mr. Trump’s transition team had publicly attacked the Intelligence Community on Friday when news of this story emerged, bringing up intelligence errors about Saddam Hussein’s weapons program before the war in Iraq.
But the President-Elect’s views on Russia have continued to run into trouble in the Congress, not only from Senators McCain and Graham, but also on Sunday from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Rubio is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which would vote on a pick by Mr. Trump for Secretary of State.