Kellyanne Conway calls CIA report on Russian election meddling ‘laughable and ridiculous’

'He thinks that people are trying to re-litigate the election', Conway says of President-elect Donald Trump

Kristine Guerra
Monday 12 December 2016 09:43 GMT
Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters at Trump Tower
Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters at Trump Tower (Evan Vucci/AP)

Kellyanne Conway called the notion of Russian interference in the election to defeat Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win the presidency “laughable and ridiculous.”

On CBS's Face The Nation on Sunday morning, Trump's senior adviser and former campaign manager echoed statements made by her boss, who said in an interview with Fox News Sunday that he does not believe the CIA's conclusion that Russia had meddled in the presidential election to help him win.

Conway specifically mentioned a Washington Post story stating that intelligence agencies have identified individuals connected to the Russian government as having worked to hurt Clinton's chances of winning the presidency.

On Friday, The Post reported that administration officials broadly laid out the evidence that US spy agencies had collected, showing Russia's role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in email hacks of Democratic organisations and individuals. They also made the case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”

The CIA shared its assessment with key senators in a recent closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. The senators were told that it was “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia's goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Conway said that there is no evidence that Russia had interfered to get Trump elected and that the Post story had no on-the-record sources.

“He thinks that people are trying to re-litigate the election,” Conway said of Trump, reiterating that the real estate mogul had won “a significant victory.”

Face The Nation host John Dickerson pressed Conway about the growing rift between Trump and the intelligence community and repeatedly asked how Trump, as president, could work harmoniously with the same intelligence agencies he has been criticising.

Conway said Trump does respect the intelligence community, adding that he did not divulge top-secret briefings he has received as president-elect.

But Dickerson pressed further.

“How can he both respect the intelligence community and then think that what they're saying to him is laughable?” he asked. “There seems to be a disconnect.”

Conway said respecting intelligence agencies and calling their findings laughable are “completely compatible.”

“He absolutely respects the intelligence community,” she said. “He's made it very clear. He's going to put his own people in there, as well.”

What Trump is questioning, Conway said, is the CIA's latest assessment that Russia meddled with the presidential election to get him elected.

“What's laughable and ridiculous is the notion that somehow this was meant to defeat Hillary Clinton and elevate him to the presidency,” she said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did not share the Trump camp's high doubts about the CIA's findings.

“It's clear that Russians interfered. Whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that should be the subject of investigation,” McCain said in a separate interview on Face The Nation on Sunday morning.

McCain is one of four senators urging an investigation by Congress on Russia's role in the presidential election. In a joint statement, McCain and senators Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said recent reports of Russian interference “should alarm every American.”

McCain said that he hopes Trump would keep an open mind about the allegations.

“Get the facts,” he said. “The facts are there about Russian behaviour.”

The Washington Post

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