Politics|Trump Nods to DNC Hack but Says It Had 'No Effect' on Election – New York Times

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The intelligence chiefs showed Mr. Trump their evidence that Russia hacked into the accounts of political organizations and members of the Clinton campaign and that it made their correspondence public in an effort to influence the election. The president-elect was sharply questioning those findings as late as Friday morning.

The briefers included James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, who said on Thursday that he was “more resolute” than ever in the conclusion that Russia was responsible for the hacking, and that it was part of a broader information warfare campaign. The director of the C.I.A., John O. Brennan; the head of the National Security Agency and the United States Cyber Command, Adm. Michael S. Rogers; and the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, also participated, officials said.

The meeting came at a moment of remarkable tension between the intelligence agencies and Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly questioned the conclusions about Russia and suggested that there was political motivation behind the intelligence findings. Mr. Clapper and Admiral Rogers said, somewhat diplomatically, at a Senate hearing on Thursday that while they welcomed skepticism, they believed that questioning the motives of the intelligence officials working on the issue was damaging to morale and to the agencies’ ability to retain top talent.

An unclassified version of the report Mr. Trump will hear about will be made public as early as Friday afternoon. The president-elect will most likely hear the most-classified details, including information about the intercepts of conversation and computer traffic, and the human sources, that the intelligence agencies used to reach their conclusions.

President-elect calls for leak investigation ahead of intelligence briefing

A half-hour before he met with the nation’s top intelligence leaders to hear their evidence that Russia interfered with the election, Mr. Trump demanded a congressional investigation of leaks from the intelligence report.

The post was a reference to an NBC News report that United States intelligence agencies heard senior Russian government officials cheering Mr. Trump’s victory on election night. It was actually first reported by The Washington Post.

Neither the president-elect nor Republican leaders in Congress have warmed to the idea of a special investigation into Russian efforts to swing the election to Mr. Trump. A leak investigation would swing the pressure the other way, toward bottling up evidence of Russian interference.

Seething on Twitter before the briefing

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James R. Clapper Jr., left, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command, testified on Russian hacking on Thursday.

Credit
Al Drago/The New York Times

Before he sat down to learn how the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the National Security Agency and other agencies reached their conclusions, Mr. Trump continued on Friday to seethe about the report, condemning leaks of its findings, casting doubt on its conclusions and saying that Russia had nothing to do with his victory.

Hillary Clinton did beat him by nearly three million in the popular vote, but on Friday, Mr. Trump will officially be declared the winner of the Electoral College vote.

Mr. Trump appears to be worried about the turnout at his Jan. 20 inauguration as well.

A flurry of posts on Twitter on Thursday night captured Mr. Trump’s mood:

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Trump Tower as the president-elect learns more.

Who will pay for the border wall? The taxpayers

After CNN reported Thursday night that the incoming Trump administration would seek taxpayer funding for his promised border wall with Mexico, the president-elect took to Twitter on Friday morning acknowledging that Mexico would not be paying for it — at least not at first.

And whom did he blame? The news media.

Making Mexico pay for the border wall was a central campaign promise and a common chant at his rallies.

Now, Mr. Trump is working with congressional leaders to find the money on this side of the border. The multibillion-dollar building effort would most likely use authority approved in 2006, when President George W. Bush signed legislation to construct a “physical barrier” on the southern border. Mr. Trump’s transition team is already scoping out locations for the first legs of the “Great Wall.”

And the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, says he told Mr. Trump during the campaign that his country had no intention of paying for it.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee jumped on the issue immediately.

“House Republicans and Donald Trump have wasted no time in breaking their promise to voters by preparing to waste massive amounts of American taxpayer money on an infeasible wall instead of focusing on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, creating jobs, and more effective approaches to improving our national security,” said a spokesman, Tyler Law.

President-elect denounces TV successor

The incoming president wants the country to know that the man who succeeded him on his reality television show, “The Apprentice,” is not doing so well. But hey, Mr. Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, supported Ms. Clinton, so what could we expect?

Mr. Trump has long been a ratings obsessive: He keeps photocopies of decade-old Nielsen charts and regularly called network executives at home to brag about “Apprentice” numbers. He likes to remind television news producers about the big ratings he attracts and, as a candidate, asked voters, “How do you think Arnold’s going to do?”

Arnold did not do great. Mr. Schwarzenegger’s debut on Monday attracted 4.9 million viewers, down from about 6.3 million for Mr. Trump’s most recent season premiere. The president-elect remains a paid executive producer, but if his Friday posts on Twitter were meant as promotional, it’s a funny way to go about it. A spokeswoman for Mark Burnett, who still runs the show, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Schwarzenegger responded on Twitter by quoting Abraham Lincoln’s appeal “to our better angels.”

At least his inauguration will have plenty of money

With two weeks to go before his swearing in, it seems Mr. Trump will not need to worry about having the money to pay for the lavish celebration that will accompany it.

The chairman of the inaugural planning committee, Thomas Barrack Jr., said on Friday that his finance team had raised $90 million to pay for the festivities, blowing past its own goal and the previous inaugural fund-raising record.

The total, raised over about six weeks, is close to double the $53 million that President Obama raised for his 2009 inauguration, the previous high-water mark. With large gifts from wealthy Republican donors forthcoming and a rash of corporate gifts, fund-raisers said they had little trouble surpassing their $70 million goal.

Mr. Trump had turned to a group of veteran Republican fund-raisers and close associates, like Mr. Barrack, to lead the effort.

The group was expected to wrap up its fund-raising efforts on Friday and turn its attention to finalizing the details of the parade, balls, rally and other events that will celebrate Mr. Trump’s ascension to the presidency on Jan. 20.

One last Obama dig on offshore drilling: No seismic tests

The Obama administration on Friday denied nearly all outstanding permit requests from energy companies wishing to conduct seismic testing for oil and gas deposits off the Atlantic coast.

The announcement blocked planned seismic tests on large portions of waters from the coast of New Jersey to the Florida shore.

The process involves creating loud underwater blasts sent from ships. The blasts can help determine the location and size of oil and gas deposits, but environmentalists oppose the method because they say it disrupts the habitats and mating of fish and marine mammals.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts by the Obama administration to create new environmental protections before Mr. Obama leaves office.

Mr. Trump has vowed to open up America’s federal lands and waters to new drilling, but Mr. Obama has used some novel moves to try to block or delay new offshore drilling. This month, he used an obscure provision in a 1953 law to permanently ban drilling in large portions of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. And experts say the move to deny seismic testing permits on such a large scale so late in an administration is also unusual.

Companies can reapply for the permits under the Trump administration, but the reapplication process, combined with a current Obama plan which bans all offshore Atlantic drilling until 2022, could significantly delay the expected start time of the testing.

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