After several weeks of denial over the involvement of Russia in the U.S. presidential election, incoming President Donald Trump has finally conceded that the Russians actually carried out the hacking.
Mr. Trump, who spoke at his first press conference since election on Wednesday, however denied that he had links with Russia over the hacking to sway the election in his favour.
When asked by a reporter as to what he would say to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the hacking, he responded: “He shouldn’t have done it. I don’t believe he will be doing it more.
“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people”, he said.
He promised to protect the U.S. cyber space when he assumes presidency on Jan. 20, berating the Democratic Party for doing a poor job in defending its systems.
“And we’re going to put those minds together, and we’re going to form a defense. And I have to say this also — the Democratic National Committee was totally open to be hacked.
“They did a very poor job. They could have had hacking defense, which we had. And I will give Reince Priebus credit because when Reince saw what was happening in the world and with this country, he went out and went to various firms and ordered a very, very strong hacking defense.
“And they tried to hack the Republican National Committee, and they were unable to break through. We have to do that for our country. It’s very important.”
The President-elect, however, dismissed reports that Russia had his dossiers, saying they would have released it if they had.
“Well, you know, President Putin and Russia put out a statement today that this fake news was indeed fake news. They said it totally never happened.
“Now somebody would say, “oh, of course he’s going to say that” — I respected the fact that he said that. And I will be honest, I think if he did have something they would have released it. They would’ve been glad to release it.”
He also, in a rare case, condemned Mr. Putin’s action, saying “hacking is bad” and that he should not be doing it.
“He shouldn’t be doing it. He won’t be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I’m leading than when other people have led it. You will see that.
“Russia will respect our country more. He shouldn’t have done it. I don’t believe that he will be doing it more now.”
Mr. Trump described Mr. Putin’s likeness for him over Democratic Hillary Clinton as an asset.
“Well, if Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability because we have a horrible relationship with Russia.
“Russia can help us fight ISIS, which by the way is number one tricky. I mean, if you look, this administration created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. The void was created, ISIS was formed.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks? That’s called an asset not a liability. Now I don’t know that I am going to get along with Vladimir Putin,” he said.
Mr. Trump also said he would present a replacement for the Affordable Care Act “very soon,” insisting that it is a disaster.
“We’re going to have a healthcare that is far less expensive and far better. Okay.”
According to him, he would distance himself from his businesses.
On the possible conflict of interest with his business and the nomination of close family members, Mr. Trump argued that there was no subsisting law against his actions.
The conflict-of-interest law, however, does apply to his cabinet nominees, which is something that could become thorny — in particular given their wealth.
The Office of Government Ethics has been very aggressive in pointing that out, and some hearings have already been delayed, in part, because of incomplete filings.
The President-in-waiting also insisted that he was going to build the wall between U.S. and Mexico.
“On the fence, it’s not a fence. It’s the wall. You just misreported it. We’re going to build a wall.”
NAN reports that other issues Trump addressed ahead of his inauguration included tax cuts, cabinet members’ screening and immigration policy, among others.