- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sen. Tim Kaine said Thursday that President-elect Donald Trump is acting as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “defense lawyer” with Mr. Trump’s stance on alleged Russian cyberattacks during the presidential campaign.

“Why does President-elect Trump, again and again and again, take it upon himself to be Vladimir Putin’s defense lawyer rather than listening to and respecting the intelligence professionals [of] the United States?” Mr. Kaine said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“There is something very unusual — indeed even sort of suspicious — about the degree to which he casually kicks aside the intelligence community when he won’t even go to the briefings, and again and again takes the Assange-Vladimir Putin line on this important question,” said Mr. Kaine, Virginia Democrat.

Mr. Trump on Wednesday highlighted an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in which Mr. Assange said the Russian government was not the source for his group’s election season leaks of communications from Democratic officials.

The U.S. intelligence community has pointed in the direction of Russia as being behind the leaks.

The presidential transition team said Wednesday that Mr. Trump does receive regular briefings, and made a distinction between the raw information presented during the briefings and the conclusions that are drawn from that data. Mr. Trump is slated to get a briefing from intelligence officials on the Russia issue specifically this Friday.

Mr. Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is holding a hearing on Thursday on foreign cyberthreats to the United States.

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