In his first news conference in 168 days, Donald Trump addressed the intelligence community’s reports blaming Russia of influencing the election by hacking the Democratic National party’s email server. At one point, he admitted that if Vladimir Putin ordered the hacks to aide his victory, it might not have been so bad after all.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that's called an asset, not a liability,” the president-elect told reporters on Wednesday morning. He also condemned the recent unverified reports that Moscow had compromised his administration by labelling them as fake news.
“I will say again that I think it’s a disgrace that information would be let out,” he continued. “I read the information it’s all fake news it didn’t happen and it was gotten by opponents of ours, as you know because you reported it and so did many of the other people, it was a group of opponents that got together, sick people, and they put that crap together.”
While the president-elect said he hopes to get along with the Russian leader, he admitted that there’s a good possibility that he won’t.
"If I don't, do you honestly believe Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me?,” he asked reporters. “Does anybody in this room honestly believe that? Give me a break.”
By the end of the news conference, Trump was asked if he’s been in contact with Russia’s president and if he wanted to send a message to Putin regarding the hacking allegations.
“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. We have to work something out. It’s not just Russia. Twenty-two million accounts were hacked in this country by China—and that’s because we have no defense.”
“All countries will respect us far more, far more than they do under past administrations.”