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He continues to pursue an elusive bond with Putin, which he sees as critical to dealing with North Korea, Iran and other issues.

"Having Russia in a friendly posture," he said last month, "is an asset to the world and an asset to our country."His position has alienated close American allies and often undercut members of his Cabinet — all against the backdrop of a criminal probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

And while Trump has formed a commission to investigate widely discredited claims of U. voter fraud, there is no task force focused on the election peril that security officials regard as a certainty — future Russian attacks.

Trump has never convened a Cabinet-level meeting on Russian interference or what to do about it, administration officials said.

"Our first order in dealing with Russia is trying to counter a lot of the destabilizing activity that Russia engages in."Others questioned how such an effort could succeed when the rationale for that objective is routinely rejected by the president. Hayden, who served as CIA director under President George W.

Bush, has described the Russian interference as the political equivalent of the Sept.

11 in the lobby of Trump Tower, he came as close as he ever would to grudging acceptance. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government's response to a national security threat. Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or tried to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.

Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin's specific instructions on the operation.

Trump seemed, at least for the moment, to acquiesce."He was affable, courteous, complimentary," Clapper said.

Trump took a seat at one end of a large table, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the other.

Among the others present were Priebus, Pompeo and designated national security adviser Michael Flynn.

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