President-elect Donald Trump will maintain a “healthy skepticism” on Friday when top intelligence officials give him a classified briefing on Russia’s role in the election hacking, according to incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
“He’s prepared to listen and to understand how they got to the conclusions he did,” Spicer said a few hours before the scheduled briefing, during an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think the idea that [Trump is] approaching this in a very logical, methodical way, asking the right questions... is the right way to go about.”
Spicer’s comments followed a flurry of tweets from the president-elect, in which he questioned the legitimacy of reports from the National Security Agency, FBI and CIA that blame Russia for hacking into government servers and meddling in the U.S. election to enhance Trump’s chances of winning the presidency. Trump also used the platform to attack an NBC report revealing Russian leaders had celebrated his victory in November.
Trump also countered the intelligence community earlier this week by siding with WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who recently denied Russia had been involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee and leaking emails.
Trump later claimed he wasn’t agreeing with Assange, but merely parroting what he had said in an interview with Sean Hannity. Trump tweeted that he’s a “big fan” of the intelligence community, although he has repeatedly questioned its integrity.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services in a hearing Thursday that he was confident Russia hacked the DNC and disseminated fake news in an attempt to influence the election.
He dismissed Assange’s credibility and condemned Trump’s attempt to undermine the intelligence officials.
“There’s a difference between healthy skepticism and disparagement,” Clapper said. “Who benefits from a president-elect trashing the intelligence community?”
Trump previously pooh-poohed intelligence briefings, saying he would only receive the daily reports when he needed them.
“I don’t have to be told ― you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day,” Trump told “Fox News Sunday” last month.
President Barack Obama receives the briefings six days a week.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during a briefing on Wednesday that Trump’s Friday meeting with intelligence officials could have serious consequences for America’s future.
“So there’s a pretty stark line that’s been drawn and the president-elect will have to determine who he’s going to believe,” Earnest said. “And the decision that he makes about that I think will have long-term consequences for the way he chooses to govern the country.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly gave James Clapper’s name as “John Clapper.”