Donald Trump and his team on Monday sharpened the divide with the Obama administration on whether Russia executed the cyber-attacks on the White House race and suggested their team might have the better intelligence.
“Rushing to judgement on stuff like this is not in anybody’s best interest,” incoming White House Communication Director Sean Spicer said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”
Spicer argued that Republican President-elect Trump is not disputing statements from U.S. intelligence officers, just waiting for a final report due later this week that could offer more conclusive evidence.
“Then I think we’ll have a better idea of what to make to the situation,” he told Fox.
Several U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russia was behind the hacking and release of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, chairman of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
President Obama last week punished Russia for the alleged cyber-attacks with sanctions that include the expelling of 35 diplomats believed to be spies and shuttering Russian compounds in Maryland and New York.
Clinton’s team and supporters say the hacked emails contributed to her upset loss to Trump.
Obama says the hacking investigation and sanctions were in the interest of protecting the U.S. election system.
But Spicer has suggested over the past 48 hours that the actions by Obama, a Democrat, were politically motivated.
“There is a question about whether there's a political retribution here versus a diplomatic response,” he told ABC on Sunday.
Spicer on Monday also attempted to explain Trump’s New Year’s Eve comments about “know(ing) things that other people don’t know” about the hacking.
He said that Trump is briefed “on a daily basis” by his security team and other members of the intelligence community.
“So he is privy to information that nobody else is,” “Spicer said. “What he’s driving at is that there doesn't seem to be conclusive evidence.”
He also dismissed a report by the FBI and Homeland Security Department supporting the accusations against Russia, calling it a "how-to" manual on basic cybersecurity for Democrats.
“This report that everyone is taking as gospel is not even final,” Spicer said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show.
He also argued, as he did Sunday, that China in 2015 stole sensitive information from millions of Americans, including federal workers, and that the White House failed to issue “a single statement.”
Trump also plans to meet this week with intelligence officials to learn more about the allegations against Moscow.
On New Year's Eve, Trump also said he wants U.S. officials to be sure about the allegations "because it's a pretty serious charge."
And he pointed to intelligence failures over the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S. invasion.
"I know a lot about hacking," he said. "And hacking is a very hard thing to prove, so it could be somebody else."