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Trump's About-Face on US Intel: I 'Misspoke,' Russia Meddled

07-17-2018
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Trump Putin
Trump Putin

WASHINGTON – President Trump is addressing the fallout from his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are condeming Trump's remarks after he appeared to back Putin and Russia over his own intelligence community's assessment of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

President Trump now says he misspoke when he addressed charges of Russian election meddling during his Helsinki summit with Putin.

During the now infamous Monday news conference, the president told reporters, "President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be."

But after reviewing a transcript of the press conference, the president told reporters at the White House Tuesday he realized the need for clarification. He says he meant to say, "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" who attempted to meddle in America's 2016 presidential election.

"In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.' The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why I wouldn't or why it wouldn't be Russia,” Trump explained.

The seeming about-face follows a flurry of criticism after he seemed to contradict US intelligence that Russia did indeed attempt to interfere in US political affairs.

The clarification comes after his performance outraged members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and drew accusations of treason from his toughest critics.

The president also said Tuesday, "I have full faith in our intelligence agencies." At just about the time the president made that statement, the lights in the room went out. They came back on seconds later.

Later, the president reiterated, "I have the strongest respect for our intelligence people" and poured praise on the intelligence leaders he's appointed.

Still, the president insisted Russia's meddling in 2016 had no impact on the outcome of the election and reiterated that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian meddlers.

Trump says his administration is working to secure America's election systems and keep Russia from interfering in the 2018 midterm elections.

Meanwhile, Trump still left open the possibility that Russia wasn't alone in targeting the election.

That view is supported by Trump defender Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who told CBN News, "Both the US government, Department of Justice, intel, as well as the Russians, as well as other countries, were trying to influence our election."

Trump's clarification came after strong bipartisan criticism, but it isn't good enough for some Democrats.

"Listen, I don't accept the President's comments today. If he wanted to make those comments, he should've had the strength to make them in front of Vladimir Putin," said  Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Sschumer is demanding notes from Trump's private meeting with Putin to know what exactly what Trump said behind closed doors.

And conservative lawmakers are lining up behind a bill written by Sen. Marco Rubio that would punish Russia for any 2018 election meddling. It's widely accepted Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but in his clarification Trump stressed his campaign did not collude with the Kremlin.

 

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