NEW YORK Jan 6 Donald Trump's top aides said he
would have an open mind on Friday when he is briefed on what
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded were Russian cyber
attacks during the 2016 election campaign, despite rising
tensions between the president-elect and the nation's spy
Trump has been dismissive of findings that Russian hackers
worked on his behalf and spokesman Sean Spicer told ABC News
that Trump has "a healthy skepticism of everything."
Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, who will be a counselor to
Trump when he takes office on Jan. 20, said Trump would question
the heads of the top U.S. intelligence agencies about their
methods and conclusions.
"He's prepared to listen and understand how they got to the
conclusions they did," Spicer told ABC on Friday.
Conway said it was too soon for Trump make a judgment even
as he has repeatedly tweeted this week about the hacking issue.
"We do not want any foreign government to interfere in this
country ... At the same time, let's wait until the
president-elect receives the briefing of this fresh, new
material," she said on the CBS "This Morning" program.
Clapper and the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency and
the Federal Bureau of Investigation are expected to attend
Trump's briefing, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) at an
The meeting comes amid increasing tension between Trump and
the intelligence communities as the New York businessman has
openly disparaged their conclusions, creating an extraordinarily
rocky relationship before he takes office on Jan. 20.
The U.S. agencies, which concluded months ago that Russian
intelligence agencies had directed the hacking of the Democrats,
said in their final intelligence report that they had identified
the Russian officials who fed the hacked material to WikiLeaks
through a third party, according to senior U.S. officials.
Democratic President Barack Obama received his briefing on
the final report on Thursday, after last week moving to punish
Moscow over the hack by expelling suspected Russian spies and
imposing sanctions. An unclassified version of the
agencies' report will be released publicly next week.
Top intelligence chiefs told U.S. lawmakers on Thursday that
they were resolute in their findings that Russia staged the
attack and pushed back against Trump's criticism.
"There's a difference between healthy skepticism ... and
disparagement," James Clapper, the director of national
intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee at the
first in a promised series of briefings and hearings on the
allegations, which Moscow denies.
The Senate Intelligence Committee said it will hold a
hearing on the issue on Tuesday with the intelligence chiefs.
Trump on Twitter has called himself a "big fan" of
intelligence agencies while also doubting their assessments that
Russia targeted his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, in order to sway the Nov. 8 election in
His comments have drawn the ire of fellow Republicans as
well as Democrats who are wary of Moscow and Trump's praise of
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Leon Panetta, former CIA director and defense secretary
under Obama, said on NBC's "Today" program on Friday that
Trump's criticisms should be done privately and that his
tweeting on the issue was "unheard of and unprecedented."
(Additional reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, and Patricia
Zengerle, Dustin Volz and David Alexander in Washington; Writing
by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott)