By Brandon Carter
President Trump on Saturday lashed out at U.S. intelligence leaders for their conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, calling them “political hacks” and slamming the investigations into Russian interference as a “Democratic hit job.”
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump blasted former U.S. intelligence officials by name, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey.
“I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks,” Trump said, according to White House pool reports. He was discussing the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump.
“So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey,” he continued. “Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker.”
“So you look at that and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them,” he continued, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Trump said that the investigation into Russian interference in the election was a “Democratic-inspired thing” and a “pure hit job.”
Trump went on to say that he wasn’t going to “argue” with Putin about whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
“He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump said, according to pool reports.
“I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine,” he added.
Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA and FBI, have concluded that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, and several congressional investigations are currently underway to determine the scale and scope of Russia’s interference.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is also leading an investigation into potential ties between President Trump’s election campaign and Russian officials.
Trump is in the middle of a five-nation, 12-day trip to Asia, and is currently in Vietnam. Trump participated overnight in the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang.