Donald Trump may have run into the first example of how the equal branches of government work — and he’s not even president yet.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the man who controls the agenda in the upper chamber, differed with Trump in a Monday morning press conference, saying he believes Russian involvement in the U.S. election needs to be investigated.
He added, “I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency.”
President-elect Trump has dismissed a CIA report that Russians not only were responsible for hacking during the election but also were trying to sway the electorate with those releases to install Trump as president.
In a remarkable two-sentence statement Friday, the Trump transition team undercut U.S. intelligence, harking back to Iraq — without addressing the merits of the evidence:
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ”
The Democratic National Committee was hacked during the election, as was Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Those emails were then posted to WikiLeaks. Trump was told by intelligence briefers before the election that Russian actors were responsible.
Trump repeatedly refused to accept that. And he now says he does not and will not accept the traditionally daily intelligence briefings, calling them “repetitive.” He said Vice President-elect Mike Pence will take the briefing instead.
McConnell seemed to condemn the leak of the CIA assessment, however. He noted that the director of National intelligence released a statement before the election saying that the Russian government directed recent email compromises in the U.S. political system.
He noted that statement was the unclassified assessment that was appropriate for public disclosure.
“Anything else is irresponsible, likely illegal, and potentially for partisan gain,” McConnell said, adding, “This simply cannot be a partisan issue.”
He continued, noting that the Senate Intelligence Committee “is more than capable of conducting a complete review of this matter.”