Trump Says Russians Couldn’t Have Influenced ‘Landslide’ Win

  • President-elect says picks not aimed at ending Obama policies
  • Trump declines to confirm Tillerson nomination to lead State

President-elect Donald Trump said foreign governments or other parties may have tried to influence the election through hacking, but it didn’t affect the results, a view that may put him at odds with several leading lawmakers, including some Republicans.

“We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College,” Trump told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump’s margin in the Electoral College, 306 to 232, was smaller than that amassed by President Barack Obama in his 2008 and 2012 wins.

Trump said the intelligence community is split on whether Russia or other governments were the sources behind leaked e-mails involving Hillary Clinton before the election, and that Democratic lawmakers were trying to use information from private CIA briefings to discredit his victory.

“Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting,” Trump said in his first appearance on a Sunday talk show since the election. “Once they hack, if you don’t catch them in the act you’re not going to catch them. They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.”

“Personally, it could be Russia. It -- I don’t really think it is, but who knows? I don’t know either. They don’t know and I don’t know,” he added.

Senators Alarmed

Four high-profile Democratic and Republican senators on Sunday issued a joint statement saying Russian interference in the U.S. electoral process should be investigated further by Congress. The Washington Post reported Dec. 9 that intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks.

“For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyberattacks at America’s physical, economic, and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property. Now our democratic institutions have been targeted. Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” said Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, both Democrats, along with John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“We are committed to working in this bipartisan manner, and we will seek to unify our colleagues around the goal of investigating and stopping the grave threats that cyberattacks conducted by foreign governments pose to our national security,” the senators said in their statement.

Tapping Tillerson

Trump, in the interview broadcast on Sunday, discussed his appointments to the Cabinet, which he said aren’t aimed at tearing down Obama’s legacy on issues such as the environment.

He expressed his desire to prevent former government officials from making money in the private sector on the policies they implemented or contracts they approved while working for federal agencies.

Trump said he’s “very, very close” to naming his secretary of state, though he declined to say whether he would select Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson, who’s emerged as the front-runner and whom Trump called “a world-class player.”

“To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well,” Trump said. “He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company -- not for himself -- for the company.”

’Dumb Market’

Trump defended his involvement in pushing Carrier Corp. to keep about 1,100 jobs from moving to the company’s gas-furnace plant operations in Mexico, saying he would’ve "been honored" to have received a call from President Barack Obama telling him how to run his business.

"That’s not a free market when they go out and they move and they sell back into our country," Trump said. "That’s the dumb market."

Carrier, a unit of United Technologies Corp., agreed to keep the jobs in Indianapolis while moving about 1,300 positions to Mexico in exchange for $7 million in tax and other incentives from the state.

Trump said his proposed 35 percent tax on businesses that move operations or jobs to other countries would keep that from happening.

Regarding his own company, Trump said he has no plans to sell his real estate, but that he’s no longer running day-to-day operations or entering into deals. He said he turned down $1 billion in deals involving one company last week because it could have been perceived as a conflict.

Trump, who accused Clinton of receiving money from foreign governments through her charity while leading the State Department, said the law gives him the right to run his business while at the same time running the country.

"I don’t even know if that’s a conflict," Trump said. "I mean, I have the right to do it. You know, under the law, I have the right to do it. I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do deals, because I want to focus on this."

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