Tags: Donald Trump | Russia | Trump Administration | vladimir putin | summit | no collusion | election meddling

Trump: 'I Accept' US Intel on Russian Meddling


By    |   Tuesday, 17 July 2018 03:05 PM

President Donald Trump on Tuesday beat back a torrent of criticism for his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki by saying he misspoke in his comments and "I accept" the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

"I have full faith and support for America's great intelligence agencies," Trump said before meeting with Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee. "Always have.

"And I have felt very strongly that while Russia's actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that — and I've said this many times — I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place."

Trump also said he meant to say in Helsinki he saw no reason why Russia would not have interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

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

In declining to challenge Putin's insistence his country did not meddle in the election, despite the intelligence data, Trump said as he stood next to the Russian leader Monday: "I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia.

"I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."

Trump's comments came after blistering blowback — including from members of his own party — for his Putin support.

At the Helsinki press conference, the president also called special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation "a disaster for our country."

"It's kept us apart," he added. "It's kept us separated.

"There was no collusion at all."

Trump, who spent more than two hours with the Kremlin leader behind closed doors, also tweeted Tuesday that his summit went "even better" than his meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels last week.

Putin denied any involvement in the election and ripped the Mueller indictments as "dirty methods."

The Kremlin leader also said he wanted Trump to win the election.

"Yes, I did, yes, I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal," Putin said in response to a reporter's question in Finland.

President Trump's summit with Putin followed the indictment Friday of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the election.

They were charged with hacking into the accounts of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton's campaign and other party operatives during the presidential election, according to the announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The Russians then released the stolen information through fake accounts — DC Links, Guccifer 2.0, among them — in the weeks before voters went to the polls that November.

The 29-page indictment, however, did not allege that Trump campaign associates were involved or any Americans were knowingly in contact with Russian intelligence officers.

President Trump told reporters Tuesday that "there was no collusion at all" between his campaign and the Kremlin, adding his administration "will move aggressively to repeal any efforts and repel" any Russian interference in this fall's congressional elections.

"We will stop it," Trump said. "We will repel it, any efforts to interfere in our elections.

"We're doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018 and we have a lot of power."

Trump said he clarified his Helsinki comments after reviewing a transcript after the ensuring uproar of his apparent support for Putin.

"I said: 'What's going on? What's the big idea?'

"I had a transcript — and I actually went out and reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave, and I realize that there is need for some clarification.

"It should have been obvious," the president added. "I thought it would be obvious."

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President Donald Trump says he misspoke in his summit comments Monday, adding "I accept" the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election, beating back a torrent of criticism.
vladimir putin, summit, no collusion, election meddling, helsinki, finland
Tuesday, 17 July 2018 03:05 PM
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