President-elect Donald Trump says that "no computer is safe" when it comes to keeping information private, expressing new scepticism about the security of online communications his administration is likely to use for everything from day-to-day planning to international relations.
Trump rarely uses email or computers despite his frequent tweeting. "You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way. Because I'll tell you what: No computer is safe," Trump told reporters during his annual New Year's Eve bash. "I don't care what they say."
Trump has repeatedly cast aside allegations by US intelligence agencies that Russia tried to influence the presidential election through hacking. President Barack Obama recently ordered sanctions on Russian spy agencies, closed two Russian compounds and expelled 35 diplomats the US said were really spies. The Russian government has denied the allegations.
Trump, who has said that he plans to meet with intelligence officials next to week to learn more about the allegations, said he wants US officials "to be sure because it's a pretty serious charge." He pointed to intelligence failures over the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the US invasion, and declared himself an expert in the area.
"I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove, so it could be somebody else," he said. He added, cryptically, that he also knows "things that other people don't know. And so they cannot be sure of the situation."
Trump made the comments during his annual New Year's Eve bash at his Mar-a-Lago club. Hundreds of guests gathered in the club's grand ballroom, including action star Sylvester Stallone and romance novel model Fabio. Reporters were invited to watch as guests arrived.
Earlier in the day, Trump ditched his press pool, travelling to play golf at one of his clubs without a pool of journalists on hand to ensure the public has knowledge of his whereabouts.
A member of Trump's golf club in Jupiter, Florida, posted a photo on Twitter of Trump on the greens yesterday morning and said about 25 US Secret Service agents accompanied the president-elect. Reporters had not been advised of the visit to the club.
Transition aide Stephanie Grisham confirmed that Trump had made a "last-minute trip" to Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, which is about a half-hour drive from Mar-a-Lago, where Trump has been spending the holidays. He returned to the estate at midafternoon.
Grisham said that she and other aides weren't aware of the trip and "appreciate everyone's understanding."