President-elect Donald Trump has cited the words of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to assert that Russian President Vladimir Putin's government did not commit cyber espionage to influence the 2016 U.S. election. In a series of social media posts, president-elect has exhibited less skepticism towards Assange than he has towards the entire U.S. intelligence community.
On Jan. 3, Assange asserted the trove of emails stolen from Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that were published on WikiLeaks were not delivered to him by the Russian government.
"We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party," Assange told Fox News' Sean Hannity.
The WikiLeaks founder added that the spearphishing effort against Clinton campaign manager John Podesta could have been attempted by any common hacker.
On Jan. 4, Trump took to his social media to comment on Assange's interview, indicating that he believed the WikiLeaks founder's assertions, USA Today reports.
"Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' - why was DNC so careless?" Trump tweeted. "Also said Russians did not give him the info!"
The president-elect's statement arrived a day after he accused intelligence officials of delaying a briefing on Russia's alleged involvement in the cyber hacks.
"The 'Intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case," Trump tweeted on Jan. 3. "Very strange!"
Intelligence officials have asserted their briefing with Trump had always been scheduled to take place on Jan. 6.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that the Russian government had hacked Democratic Party organizations and campaigns and leaked stolen emails through WikiLeaks to provide an advantage for the business mogul in the presidential election coverage.
On Jan. 4, former CIA analyst Aki Peritz slammed Trump for his rhetoric towards the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
"Never in our history has a U.S. president openly chosen to trust the word of a foreign adversary ahead of his own analysts," Peritz wrote in an opinion article for Politico. The former CIA analyst added that Trump's "job is to defend and protect the people who protect us, not undermine and mock them."
Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has predicted that Trump will take the allegations against Russia more seriously once he is briefed by intelligence officials.
"I think he has not received his Russia briefing yet," Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. "So hopefully he'll get up to speed on what has been happening and what Russia has or has not done, and he'll be better informed on that."