U.S. President-elect Donald Trump now says he believes Russia was involved in cyberattacks during the presidential election.
It was the first time Trump has admitted Russian involvement in hacking computers of the Democratic National Committee. In the past, he refused to publicly accept U.S. intelligence community findings that Russia was involved in election hacking.
Trump’s comments came Wednesday during his first press conference since the election.
“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Trump said. Top U.S. intelligence officials have said they believe Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about and approved the cyberattacks.
Trump was asked in the press conference if he had any message for the Russian leader in response to the hacking.
“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 it, than when other people have led it. You will see that.”
U.S. intelligence agencies have suggested that Putin might have engaged in hacking as a way to help Trump win the election. Much of the information released by the hacks turned out to be embarrassing to the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.
But Trump said the Republican National Committee also became aware of attempts to hack into its organization. He said possible attacks were stopped by putting security measures in place.
Speaking about future relations with Russia, Trump told reporters he does not think it is a bad thing if Putin actually likes him.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability.”
Trump added that cyberattacks from outside the United States were not only coming from Russia. He said China is also involved, along with other nations. Trump said he has asked his top national security officials to complete within 90 days a major report on ways the government can prevent hacking.
Trump denounced news reports that Russia is holding onto secret personal and financial information that could embarrass him. The reports also alleged that his campaign had made contact with Russian intelligence officials.
“I think it's a disgrace,” Trump said. “It’s all fake news.”
The unproven information in the news reports was reportedly included in a secret U.S. intelligence report on Russian influence in the election. Copies of that report were given last week to Trump, President Barack Obama and leaders of Congress.
Trump’s business interests
During the press conference, Trump also announced how he planned to deal with his business interests during his presidency. The president-elect has promised that his business activities would not pose a conflict of interest while he serves as president.
One of his lawyers explained that Trump had decided to give up control of his company to his two sons and another executive. His business assets will be put into a trust and Trump will take other steps to keep separate from his businesses, the lawyer said.
Trump was asked whether he is backing away from his pledge to have Mexico pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border. He said, “Mexico will pay for the wall” by reimbursing the United States.
On his pledge to get rid of the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama, Trump promised to quickly replace it. He said his goal was to have a new, better health care law in place when the current law, often called “Obamacare,” is ended.
When asked about the Supreme Court, Trump said he will likely name his choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia within two weeks of the inauguration.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, with additional material from VOA News, the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
hacking – n. secretly getting access to files on a computer or network in order to get information, cause damage or change results
embarrass – v. make someone feel ashamed or shy
asset – n. something of value that a person or company owns
liability – n. the state of being legally responsible for something
financial – adj. pertaining to money or finances
disgrace – n. condition of feeling ashamed or losing respect for
fake – adj. not real, but made to look or seem real
trust – n. arrangement where someone’s money or property is legally held and managed by another person or organization
reimburse – v. pay back money, especially after the money was already spent to do work