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Outgoing CIA chief rips into Trump on Russia threat

Agencies | Updated: 2017-01-16 13:51
Outgoing CIA chief rips into Trump on Russia threat

CIA Director John Brennan prepares to testify to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on "Russia’s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, January 10, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW YORK  — The outgoing CIA director charged on Sunday that Donald Trump lacks a full understanding of the threat Moscow poses to the United States, delivering a public lecture to the president-elect that further highlighted the bitter state of Trump's relations with American intelligence agencies.

John Brennan's pointed message on national television came just five days before Trump becomes the nation's 45th president amid lingering questions about Russia's role in the 2016 election even as the focus shifts to the challenges of governing.

"Now that he's going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he's going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that US and national security interests are protected," Brennan said on "Fox News Sunday," warning that the president-elect's impulsivity could be dangerous.

"Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests," Brennan declared.

Trump, who has unleashed a series of aggressive tweets against the US intelligence community and his political rivals in recent weeks, responded aggressively on Twitter several hours later.

"Was this the leaker of Fake News?" Trump tweeted Sunday evening, referring to a recent document that contains unverified financial and personal information that could be damaging to the president-elect. The Associated Press has not been able to verify the contents of the document.

The president-elect remained behind closed doors in his Manhattan high rise Sunday. His team worked to answer questions about his plans at home and abroad once he's sworn into office on Friday.

Among Trump's immediate challenges: the United States' complicated relationship with Russia, crafting an affordable health care alternative that doesn't strip coverage from millions of Americans, and growing questions about the legitimacy of his presidency.

Without providing details, Trump promised his plan to replace the nation's health care law would provide universal coverage, according to a Washington Post interview published late Sunday.

"We're going to have insurance for everybody," he said. "There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us."Meanwhile, civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is among several Democrats in Congress who vowed to skip Trump's inauguration, charging that Russian interference in the 2016 election delegitimizes his presidency.

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