The Latest: Reid says Putin himself was involved in hacking

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Donald Trump (all times EST):

12:20 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says he believes Vladimir Putin was personally involved in efforts to intrude into the presidential election and help Donald Trump win the White House.

The Nevada Democrat said Thursday “the answer clearly is yes” when asked about the Russian president’s involvement. He adds that because Putin is a former KGB chief, his alleged actions should surprise no one.

Reid also criticized FBI Director James Comey for doing “nothing” to prevent Russia from hacking Democratic campaign documents while focusing on Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Reid says Comey, a registered Republican, “became so partisan” that he should head the Republican National Committee.

Reid is retiring at the end of the year. He spoke at a Capitol event honoring a conservation project in Nevada.


10:22 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump has officially chosen Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to serve as his interior secretary.

Zinke was an early supporter of Trump’s and publicly sought a Cabinet post when Trump visited Montana in May.

Trump’s decision to tap Zinke for interior upends Senate Republican plans of recruiting the congressman to challenge two-term Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in 2018.

As Montana’s at-large representative, Zinke has proven he can win statewide, and the GOP considered Tester vulnerable in the midterms.

As with several other Trump Cabinet nominees, Zinke has advocated for increased energy drilling and mining on public lands and expressed skepticism about the urgency of climate change.


10:06 a.m.

Senate Democrats have unveiled legislation to require President-elect Donald Trump to sell his businesses and put all of his assets in a blind trust.

The legislation comes as Trump is grappling over how to distance himself from potential conflicts of interest between his sprawling business empire and the actions he will take as president.

Among the lead sponsors of the bill is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said the public needs assurances that Trump will do “what’s best for the country — not using his office to do what’s best for himself and his businesses.”

The announcement came on the day Trump had been scheduled to disclose the steps he will take to ameliorate conflicts of interest. His transition aides now say the press conference will take place next month.


7:45 a.m.

A top adviser to Donald Trump says his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, would be the most likely family members to have official staff roles.

Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC Thursday that any of the president-elect’s adult children who work in the administration would separate from their father’s business empire and leave “no ambiguity” that could expose the family to conflicts of interest.

She added that Ivanka, her husband and any Trump siblings who choose to work in the White House would make big financial “sacrifices” to do so.

Trump’s transition aides say lawyers are working to untangle Trump and his family from their business empire after criticism that failing to do anything short of creating a blind trust would expose them to conflict of interest investigations and lawsuits.

Trump plans a news conference on the issue Thursday.


6:32 a.m.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has lauded nominees for the incoming Trump administration as people with no “anti-Russian stereotypes.”

Medvedev said in a televised interview on Thursday that Moscow is glad Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been nominated for secretary of state, describing him as someone with “pragmatic thinking.” Medvedev said President-elect Donald Trump’s recent appointments show that he hires people who “don’t have ingrained anti-Russian stereotypes, or any stereotypes.”

The Kremlin has cheered Trump’s victory although some top Russian officials have recently said they had no illusions and were not expecting relations between Russia and the U.S., which were battered after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, to improve overnight.


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