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Trump Encourages Nominees To 'Express Own Thoughts' In Confimation Hearings


U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo (Republican-Kansas) testifies before a Senate Intelligence hearing on his nomination to head the CIA at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on January 12.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has written on social media that he supports his cabinet nominees and encourages them to air views different from his own.

Trump wrote on Twitter on January 13 that he thinks all the nominees "are looking good and doing a great job" in their Senate confirmation hearings. "I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!" he added.

Several nominees -- including Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, James Mattis for defense secretary, and Mike Pompeo for CIA chief -- have expressed views that diverge significantly from positions Trump took during the presidential campaign on issues including Iran, Russia, and NATO.

Trump also repeated his assertions that recent unverified allegations that Russia's security forces have amassed compromising personal and financial information about him are "totally made up facts" and "FAKE NEWS!" that were "put together by my political opponents and a failed spy afraid of being sued."

He said he thinks the allegations were "probably released by 'intelligence,'" despite a phone conversation on January 11 with U.S. spy chief James Clapper in which Clapper expressed his belief the leak did not come from intelligence agencies.

Trump tweeted on January 12 that Clapper had told him the report was untrue, while Clapper issued a statement saying no determination had been made on the veracity of the allegations.

The president-elect also promised to compile a "full report" on alleged Russian hacking during the U.S. presidential campaign within 90 days.

With reporting by Reuters
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