President-elect Donald Trump says he’ll turn to the tech industry leaders he met with last month to help his administration come up with better measures to guard against hackers in Russia and elsewhere.
During today’s first formal news conference since his surprise win since the presidential election, Trump referred to the summit that he had at Trump Tower in Manhattan with such luminaries as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
He said that meeting attracted “some of the greatest computer minds” in the world.
“We’re going to get those minds together, and we’re going to form a defense” against future computer intrusions, Trump said.
Later on, Trump gave a timetable: “Within 90 days, we will be coming up with a major report on hacking defense,” he said. “How do we stop this new phenomenon, this fairly new phenomenon, because the United States is hacked by everybody. That includes Russia, and China, and everybody.”
Trump referred to a cyber security breach that compromised the personal information of 22 million people inside and outside the federal government. That intrusion, which targeted records held by the Office of Personnel Management, was detected in 2015 and traced to suspected Chinese hackers.
He complained that media outlets “didn’t make a big deal out of that.” (They did.)
The “hacking defense” issue came up in response to questions about intelligence findings that Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, tried to influence the election by breaking into email accounts associated with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
After weeks of questioning the conclusions drawn by U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump signaled that he accepted the findings.
“I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries,” he told scores of reporters at today’s news conference, conducted at Trump Tower.
Trump laid some of the blame on the DNC, which he said was “totally open to be hacked.”
“They could have had hacking defense, which we had,” he said, referring to the Trump campaign.
He and his spokesman, Sean Spicer, hit back at reports that the Russians had acquired compromising information about Trump’s business dealings and personal life. Referring to Putin, Trump said, “If he did have something, they would have released it. … They would have released it just like they did about Hillary.”
Spicer called out BuzzFeed and CNN by name for publishing details about the purported Trump files, which have been circulating in intelligence and media circles for months but have not been independently confirmed. A two-page summary of the files was appended to an intelligence report that was shared with Trump last week, and BuzzFeed provided a more detailed rundown on Tuesday.
“It’s a disgrace that information would be let out,” Trump said. “It’s all fake news, it’s phony stuff, it didn’t happen.”
He suggested that the information was leaked “by maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows.” If so, that would be “a tremendous blot on their record,” Trump said.
One reporter asked Trump to confirm that no one connected with him or his campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to the campaign and the election, and then asked what he’d say to Putin about Russia’s hacking campaign. Trump glided over the first question and went right to the second one.
“He shouldn’t be doing it, he won’t be doing it,” the president-elect said. “Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I’m leading it than when other people have led it. You will see that. … He shouldn’t have done it. I don’t believe he’ll be doing it more now. We have to work something out.”