electability.69 The assessment further concluded with high conﬁdence that Putin and the Russian government had developed a clear preference for Trump.70 Several days later, BuzzFeed published unveriﬁed allegations compiled by former British intelligence ofﬁcer Christopher Steele during the campaign about candidate Trump’s Russia connections under the headline “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia.”71 In a press conference the next day, the President-Elect called the release “an absolute disgrace” and said, “I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. . . . So I have no deals, I have no loans and I have no dealings. We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to, I just don’t want to because I think that would be a conﬂict.”72 Several advisors recalled that the President-Elect viewed stories about his Russian connections, the Russia investigations, and the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference as a threat to the legitimacy of his electoral victory.73 Hicks, for example, said that the PresidentuElect viewed the intelligence community assessment as his “Achilles heel” because, even if Russia had no impact on the election, people would think Russia helped him win, taking away from what he had accomplished.74 Sean Spicer, the ﬁrst White House communications director, recalled that the President thought the Russia story was developed to undermine the legitimacy of his election.75 Gates said the President viewed the Russia investigation as an attack on the legitimacy of his win.76 And Priebus recalled that when the intelligence assessment came out, the PresidentuElect was concerned people would question the legitimacy of his win.” 69 Ofﬁce of the Director of National Intelligence, Russia 's Inﬂuence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election, at 1 (Jan. 6, 2017). 7° Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Russia ’11 Inﬂuence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election, at 1 (Jan. 6, 2017). 71 Ken Bensinger et 211., These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia, B‘uzzFeed (Jan. 10, 2017). 72 Donald Trump ’8‘ News Conference: Full Transcript and Video, New York Times (Jan. 1 1, 201 7), available a! https:,//www.nytimes.com/2017/0 1/ l 1/us/politics/trump—press-conference- transcripthtml. 73 Priebus 10/13/17 302, at 7; Hicks 3/13/18 302, at 18; Spicer 10/16/17 302, at 6; Bannon 2/14/18 302, at 2; Gates 4/18/18 302, at 3; see Pompeo 6/28/17 302, at 2 (the President believed that the purpose of the Russia investigation was to delegitimize his presidency). 74 Hicks 3/13/18 302, at 18. 75 Spicer 10/17/17 302, at 6. 76 Gates 4/18/18 302, at 3. 77 Priebus 10/13/17 302, at 7. “PI
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