President Donald Trump on Tuesday responded to scathing criticism through 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 will Russia’s meddling from the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, before adding: “Could be additional people also. A lot of people out there. yet there was no collusion.”
The president also claimed Russia’s actions didn’t have an impact on election results. Nonetheless, he said, his administration will be committed to securing the nation’s election systems, as well as “will stop the idea as well as repel the idea [if there are] any efforts to interfere in our election.”
Trump’s press conference Monday with Putin stunned the entire 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 will Russia did, in fact, interfere from the 2016 presidential election.
“My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats, came to me as well as some others they said they think the idea’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said the idea’s not Russia,” Trump said Monday. “I will say that will: I don’t see any reason why the idea could be.”
On Tuesday, however, Trump said he misspoke in Helsinki, as well as that will he had, in fact, meant to say he didn’t see “any reason why the idea wouldn’t be Russia,” thereby tilting the scales in favor of the assessment reached by his own intelligence agencies, as well as not the denial issued by Putin.
The president further sought to contain the damage through 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 as well as 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.