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Donald Trump Talks Policy, Conflicts, Calls Idea Russians Helped Him 'Ridiculous'

The president-elect also claimed that he doesn't need daily security briefings because he's 'like, a smart person.'
Image: President-elect Donald Trump
President-elect Donald Trump looks on Dec. 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday further dismissed reports revealing the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia actively worked to help him win the election — calling the notion "ridiculous ... just another excuse."

He also said he didn’t accept the widespread belief — shared by many of his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill — that Russia was even behind the various hacks and leaks that may have swayed in the election.

"If you look at the story and you take a look at what they said, there's great confusion," Trump said during an interview on Fox News Sunday. "Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting. Once they hack if you don't catch them in the act you're not going to catch them. They have no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea."

That echoes a sentiment he expressed during the first presidential debate, in September, telling moderator Lester Holt:

"[The hacker] could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?"

"I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years."

On Fox News Sunday, Trump added, "it could be Russia ... I don't really think it is, but who knows? I don't know either. They don't know and I don't know."

But Trump didn’t seem impressed overall by the intelligence community, telling host Chris Wallace he’s turned down the Presidential Daily Briefing — a top-secret briefing that’s meant to provide presidents-elect with an overview of national security developments — because he doesn’t find it useful.

"I get it when I need it," he said.

Related: Donald Trump Has Attended Only Two Intelligence Briefings

He said he tells his briefers that, "If something should change from this point, immediately call me."

He added: "I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years."

Trump insisted the briefings don’t change day to day, but said during "fluid" situations he’ll take the briefings “not every day, but more than that."

It’s one of many breaks in precedent for the president-elect since he won the election just over a month ago.

One of his most unexpected moves has been a series of sometimes freewheeling phone conversations with foreign leaders that have dispensed with decades of foreign policy, sparking frustration and concern from some of America’s major allies.

Related: Why Trump's Call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Matters

One such call, a congratulatory call Trump received from the president of Taiwan, seemed to undercut the longstanding "One-China" policy to which the U.S. adheres, which states the U.S. government works with the Taiwanese government but only officially recognizes the Chinese government.

The call sparked a formal complaint by the Chinese government to U.S. officials, but Trump’s aides repeatedly insisted it was a long-planned, strategic move intended to signal the incoming administration would put pressure on China in new ways to change its economic policies.

But Trump contradicted those aides on Sunday, saying he only heard about the call “probably an hour or two before” it came.

He did suggest, however, he does plan to throw away the One-China policy while in office to gain concessions from China: "I fully understand the One-China policy, but I don't know why we have to be bound by a One-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade."

Related: Trump's Call With Taiwan's Leader Exposes China's Strained Relations

Trump also laid out some new details on how he’s going to handle his businesses while in office, confirming he wouldn’t be completely selling off his assets but would instead hand over the management to a team that would include his children.

Related: Donald Trump to Remain Producer on 'The Apprentice' While President

"My executives will run it with my children. It's a big company, it's a great company. But I'm going to have nothing to do with management," he said.

Pressed on the fact that such an arrangement still leaves ample opportunity for conflicts of interest — with foreign countries already booking events at his hotel in Washington, D.C. — Trump said he’s turning down “billions of dollars of deals.”

“The money I spent [running for president] is peanuts compared to the money I won't make, and that's okay, because this is so important,” Trump said.

He added that as president “I’m not going to be doing deals at all" — even though, he claimed: "under the law, I have a right to do it."

And Trump acknowledged that even as president-elect he’s still taking business meetings and calls during the transition period — though he said he’s turning deals down.

“I don't want to do deals, because I want to focus on this. But, by my not doing deals — I turned down seven deals with one big player, great player, last week, because I thought it could be perceived as a conflict of interest,” Trump said.