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Trump rejects intel, lawmakers vow probe of Russia hacking

Published:Monday | December 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM


President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday called a recent CIA assessment of Russian hacking "ridiculous" and says he's not interested in getting daily intelligence briefings an unprecedented rejection of the nation's massive and sophisticated intelligence apparatus.

Trump's remarks come as key congressional Republicans joined Democrats in demanding a bipartisan investigation into the Kremlin's activities and questioned consideration of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson who has close business ties with Moscow as head of the State Department.

Asked whether he's rejecting valuable intelligence on 'Fox News Sunday', Trump was defiant.

"I get it when I need it," he said of the top-secret briefings sessions, adding that he's leaving it up to the briefers to decide when a development represents a "change" big enough to notify him. "I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years."

The CIA has concluded with "high confidence" that Russia sought to influence the US election on behalf of Trump. The finding alarmed lawmakers, including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who said Sunday he planned to put Senator Lindsay Graham, a staunch Trump critic, in charge of investigating the claim.

McCain has vowed to scrutinise Tillerson's business relationship with Russia President Vladimir Putin, if Tillerson is nominated. Exxon steadily expanded its Russian business on his watch even as its rivals faced expropriation and regulatory obstacles. In 2013, Putin bestowed the Order of Friendship on Tillerson.

"Maybe those ties are strictly commercial and got to do with his business in the oil business. Fine," McCain told CBS 'Face the Nation'. And "we'll give him a fair hearing. But is it a matter of concern? Certainly it should be a matter of concern."

McCain wasn't alone, raising questions about whether there would be enough blowback to sink a Tillerson nomination.

"Being a 'friend of Vladimir' is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState," tweeted Florida Republican Sen Marco Rubio, Trump's former campaign rival and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.