Vice President Joe Biden said intelligence officials felt an "obligation" to inform President Obama and him about the "unsubstantiated" claims about Donald Trump so they would be aware in case the information became public.
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Biden, who said he read "everything" included in the 35 page dossier, told reporters gathered in his West Wing office on Thursday that the FBI felt the need to look into the claims but that the president did not ask them to do so.
"I think it’s something that obviously the agency thinks they have to track down," he said. "We’re not asking. The president and I didn’t say, by the way, run this down."
"It surprised me in the sense that it made it to the point where the agency, the FBI, thought they had to pursue it," he continued. "It didn’t surprise me in the sense that you hear all kinds of this stuff in politics."
He emphasized that neither he nor President Obama felt the need to have a long discourse on the claims since they had asked for a report on Russia's involvement in election hacking.
"It is totally ancillary. It had nothing to do with ... what the president asked for --- a really thorough scrub of Russian involvement," the vice president said. "The president was like ... 'What does this have to do with anything?'"
"There was hardly any discussion and neither the president nor I asked for any detail about [the dossier]" he said.
The vice president criticized Trump for his attacks on the intelligence community, saying "It is really very damaging, in my view, to our standing in the world for a president to take one of the crown jewels of our national defense and denigrate it."
"It plays into, particularly now, the Russian narrative that America doesn’t know what it’s doing," he added.
Biden also questioned why Trump invoked Nazi Germany while discussing the intelligence community.
"The one thing you never want to invoke is Nazi Germany," he said. "No matter what the circumstances. Even if you’re trying to make a point that may -– and I’m not suggesting he did -– but may be relevant."
Biden said Vice President-elect Mike Pence is "significantly more informed about Russian conduct, potential intentions and Putin’s behavior than the president-elect is -– based on what the president-elect says."
He also expressed hope that Trump will surround himself with "people who are smart as hell" and cited Defense Secretary nominee General James Mattis as a figure for whom he has "great respect," with whom he often agrees.