U.S. President-elect Donald Trump held his first news conference in New York on Jan. 11, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua]
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday that "I think it was Russia" behind the cyber-attacks targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
"As far as hacking, I think it was Russia," said Trump at his first press conference in New York since winning the election in November.
"He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) shouldn't be doing it. He won't be doing it," said Trump. "Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I'm leading than when other people have led it."
Trump's first public acknowledgement came after months of denial and sometimes even disparagement of U.S. intelligence community.
Since October, the U.S. intelligence community had accused Russians of being responsible for the hacking that led to the leaking of damaging materials which dogged Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton till the Election Day.
On Friday, the U.S. intelligence released a report, accusing Putin of ordering "an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election" in order to "undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process."
Moscow on Monday refuted accusations of Russia's involvement in cyber-attacks during the U.S. 2016 election, saying that it was a "tiresome witch-hunt."
"We continue to categorically rule out any involvement of Moscow and ... Russian officials and agencies in any hacker attacks," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he believes President-elect Donald Trumpí»s hopes of working more cooperatively with Russia "will be dashed pretty quickly."
The Kentucky Republican's comments came in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," a day after Trump had tweeted: "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only 'stupid' people, or fools, would think that it is bad!"