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Obama to Trump: Have confidence in nation’s intel assessment

President Barack Obama sits with

President Barack Obama sits with "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos for a taped interview in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. Credit: Official White House Photo / Pete Souza

President Barack Obama has asked President-elect Donald Trump to have confidence in assessments by the nation’s intelligence officials, the outgoing Democratic leader said in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” citing conversations he and his successor have had during the transition period.

“What I’ve said to him is that there are going to be times where you’ve got raw intelligence that comes in and in my experience, over eight years, the intelligence community is pretty good about saying, ‘Look, we can’t say for certain what this means,’ ” Obama said. “But there are going to be times where the only way you can make a good decision is if you have confidence that the process is working.”

Trump surrogates said the president-elect accepts intelligence reports that Russia meddled in the race for the White House but added there is no evidence that the efforts affected the outcome.

Obama and members of the incoming administration appeared on Sunday talk shows on the heels of a report released Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that formally alleged Russian federation leader Vladimir Putin ordered the cyberattack on Democratic Party email accounts in an attempt to throw the election to Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Trump retweeted a link to an interview his counselor and former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, conducted Sunday with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Conway said the president-elect is dedicated to forming a plan to beef up the country’s cybersecurity once he takes office.

She also said that within the intelligence reports, “there is no evidence that Russia succeeded in any alleged attempt to disrupt our democracy or in fact to influence the election results.”

Trump’s incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told “Fox News Sunday” that the president-elect accepts Russia’s role in the hacking.

“He’s not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign,” Priebus said, while adding that the Democratic National Committee — a main target of the cybercrimes — was “a sitting duck.”

Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed Priebus, currently the chairman of the Republican National Committee, on whether he places more blame on Russia or the Democratic Party.

“The primary actor is the foreign entity that’s perpetrating the crime to begin with,” Priebus said.

Trump was briefed on Friday at Trump Tower by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey on hacking efforts by the Russia.

Trump, who has recently praised Putin, said over the weekend that the Democrats made themselves vulnerable to hacking and emphasized that Russia’s interference did not deliver his victory.

“Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!” he tweeted. “Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed.”

Obama said that he and Trump, the Republican real estate mogul who will be inaugurated in two weeks, have had “cordial” conversations over recent weeks. Obama said he has tried to discuss the difference between campaigning and governing.

The president, in the exit interview with ABC News, also spoke about Trump and the Republican Party’s plans to dismantle his signature Affordable Care Act health insurance plan.

“When it comes to health care, the gains that we made are out there,” Obama said, citing 20 million previously uninsured Americans who now have health insurance. “... Don’t undo things just because I did them.”

Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said Republicans haven’t presented a viable replacement to the ACA.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Senate Republicans would be taking their first step toward repealing Obamacare this week and a replacement would come “rapidly.” He wouldn’t specify a timeline.


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