President Donald Trump on Tuesday responded to scathing criticism from across the political spectrum of his performance at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki.
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, before adding: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. But there was no collusion.”
The president also claimed Russia’s actions didn’t have an impact on election results. Nonetheless, he said, his administration is committed to securing the nation’s election systems, and “will stop it and repel it [if there are] any efforts to interfere in our election.”
Trump’s press conference Monday with Putin stunned the world, not least because the president appeared to endorse Putin’s denial of Russian election meddling over the conclusions reached by Trump’s own intelligence agencies that Russia did, in fact, interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats, came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said Monday. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
On Tuesday, however, Trump said he misspoke in Helsinki, and that he had, in fact, meant to say he didn’t see “any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,” thereby tilting the scales in favor of the assessment reached by his own intelligence agencies, and not the denial issued by Putin.
The president further sought to contain the damage from his apparent split with his own intelligence agencies by repeatedly praising them Tuesday.
“I have a faith, full faith, in our intelligence agencies. I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies, always have,” Trump said during remarks at the start of a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House.
Source : CNBC