President Donald Trump on Tuesday responded to the widespread condemnation of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming that he believes the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. His words came a day after he sided with Putin in an extraordinary press conference.
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” he said Tuesday, appearing to read from prepared remarks, before suggesting that it “could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
During Monday’s press conference with Putin, he refused to condemn Russia’s interference, saying that he accepted the Russian president’s denial and took Putin’s word over the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, which he has continually attacked during his presidency.
“President Putin just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
But on Tuesday, Trump claimed that he misspoke, explaining that he meant to say that he saw no reason why it would not be Russia.
“I would like to clarify, 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 it wouldn’t be Russia,’” he said.
Trump’s attempt to walk back his remarks resembled his response to his moral equivalence following the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence, before reading a prepared statement condemning the white supremacist groups — and then later doubling down on his original remarks.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.