WASHINGTON – No evidence has emerged to suggest that Russian hacking influenced the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, and it would be irresponsible to jump to conclusions before receiving a final intelligence report, Donald Trump’s spokesman said on Monday.
“There is zero evidence that they influenced the election,” Sean Spicer told Fox News.
Due to become White House press secretary when Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, Spicer told CNN the president-elect will see the intelligence report once it is completed this week.
On Saturday, Trump warned against being quick to pin the blame on Russia for the hacking of U.S. emails.
“The idea that we’re jumping to conclusions before we have a final report is irresponsible,” Spicer told CNN.
President Barack Obama expelled 35 suspected Russian spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies last week for alleged Kremlin involvement in the hacking, which intelligence officials said was aimed at helping the Republican Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.
Leading lawmakers from both parties have voiced alarm at the suggestion of Russian interference, whether or not it made a difference in the outcome.
Republican John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has scheduled a Thursday hearing on foreign cyberthreats. The new Congress was to take office on Tuesday.
Calling for closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump has repeatedly played down the hacking affair.
Over the weekend, Trump said he knew “things that other people don’t know” and would disclose some information on the issue on Tuesday or Wednesday. He gave no further details.
“He’s going to talk about his conclusions and where he thinks things stand,” Spicer told CNN. “He’s not going to reveal anything that was privileged or shared with him classified.”
On Sunday, Spicer said the White House may have disproportionately punished Russia.
“It’s baffling,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC on Monday. “President-elect Trump does not have any better information than President Obama.”
A Gallup Poll released on Monday showed less than half of Americans were confident in Trump’s ability to handle an international crisis, to use military force wisely or to prevent major scandals in his administration.
The poll said at least 7 in 10 Americans had been confident in Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in those areas before they took office.