Kellyanne Conway on Trump doubting Russian hacking: He has his own intelligence sources, you know

A late-evening reminder for you that tomorrow is supposed to be the day Trump reveals “things that other people don’t know” about the hackings. Emphasis on “supposed to be”:

Trump tweeted this a few minutes before that:

Note the double scare quotes. Maybe the briefing with U.S. intelligence was originally scheduled for tomorrow and, now that it’s been delayed, Trump felt obliged to delay his own announcement until after he’s heard them out? (Intel officials tell CNN that there was never a briefing scheduled for today.) Presumably he’ll be ready to say something on Friday or Saturday, assuming he ends up saying anything at all.

Yesterday I wondered what he could possibly know about the hacking that others don’t, assuming he doesn’t intend to disclose the content of his official daily (or, er, semi-weekly) intelligence briefing. Could it be that he’ll claim that he has his own super-secret private intelligence sources who have totally owned the CIA by figuring out the true culprit in this sinister frame-up of Vladimir Putin? Listen to Conway here and draw your own conclusions.

Trump is well-informed by various intelligence sources about such matters, said Conway, who stepped in late in the race as the billionaire’s campaign manager. She’s since been named by Trump as counselor to the president.

“[Trump] receives any number of different intelligence pieces of information from a number of different sources, including the … presidential daily briefing,” Conway said.

“He [also] receives regular briefings from his security team, from outside sources, and he … has agreed to receive this top-level intelligence briefing from the nation’s top, top intelligence officials,” she added.

All signs point to yes. If that’s what happens, with the president-elect publicly choosing to trust his own unnamed sources over the considered advice of the CIA, I can’t imagine how the IC will react. One X-factor looming in all of this is Mike Pompeo, who’s on tap to take over as CIA director later this month once he’s confirmed. Pompeo’s going to be briefed by his deputies on the hackings, of course, and then he’ll have to make a choice: Does he risk alienating his boss by siding with the agency’s assessment that Russia did it or does he risk alienating his deputies by siding with his boss in doubting their conclusions? Pompeo’s an outsider who’ll be eager to earn the trust of the intel bureaucracy as he assumes his new role, but unless something changes, he’ll be forced to cross either them or Trump. Good luck, Mike.

As for Assange, to whom Conway says in the clip we should pay “significant attention,” since when does he know who his sources are in a sufficiently definitive way to be able to rule anyone in or out? When Wikileaks got started, Assange made a point of noting that the site was engineered so that neither he nor his staff would know who was sending them documents. That’s how he could ensure perfect anonymity to leakers — Wikileaks wouldn’t reveal their identities because Wikileaks wouldn’t know their identities. Now he’s telling Sean Hannity on camera that he absolutely, positively guarantees that it wasn’t Russian intelligence (or, more likely, a go-between who was given the Democratic material by Russian intelligence for the purpose of handing it off to Assange). How can he possibly say? Either Wikileaks knows the identities of its sources or it doesn’t.

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