Undaunted by criticism, Trump looks to next Putin meeting

Cheryl Sanders
July 19, 2018

On Monday, Trump appeared to accept Putin's denial of Russian interference in the USA 2016 presidential election at their joint press conference in Helsinki, sparking uproar in Washington.

Donald Trump reiterated the statement that Democrats and the press are the enemy just before his summit with Putin kicked off earlier this week, launching into them in a tweet while he was en route to Helsinki. "So, certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes", Trump said.

Mr Putin earlier accused forces in the United States of trying to undermine the success of the first summit, but said the two leaders had begun to improve US-Russia ties anyway.

The Times says Trump first learned of Russia's interference January 6, 2017, two weeks before his inauguration, during a meeting in NY at Trump Tower with then-CIA Director John Brennan; James Clapper, then-director of national intelligence; then-FBI Director James Comey; and Admiral Mike Rogers, then-director of the National Security Agency.

Faced with outrage at home, Trump said Tuesday that he accepted the intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation had meddled in the election. I will say this: "I don't see any reason why it would be".

In a possible dig at Mr Trump's unpredictable presidency, Mr Putin vaunted Russia's "consistent, responsible, independent foreign policy".

"Clearly, it would be naive to expect issues that accumulated over years to be resolved in the course of a few hours and no one expected that to happen but nevertheless, I think that we succeeded to embark on a path to positive changes", Putin said, adding that those forces were ready to sacrifice relations with Russian Federation "to their ambition related to the domestic political struggle".

CBS News anchor Jeff Glor then asked Trump: "So if you believe U.S. intelligence agencies, is Putin lying to you?" That came just days after National Intelligence Director Dan Coats sounded an alarm, comparing the cyberthreat today to the way USA officials said before 9/11 that intelligence channels were "blinking red" with warning signs that a terror attack was imminent.

Among the 11 Americans on Putin's list are former USA ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and financier Bill Browder, an outspoken Kremlin critic.

Later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders sought to clarify Trump's comments, saying his "no" meant that he was not taking any questions from reporters.

He also offered a twisted explanation of his assertion in Helsinki that he could not see "any reason" why Russian Federation would interfere, claiming he misspoke.

The muddied waters have deepened critics' concerns that Trump is not taking threats to the USA electoral system seriously enough.

"The concept of letting American citizens being investigated for crimes that are just, I think, jokes is absurd", he added. Susan Collins of ME said of Trump's one-word response.

The president was responding to a question about whether he thought any US intelligence agencies were out to get him.

Democratic lawmakers meanwhile pushed for Congress to subpoena Trump's summit interpreter to find out what transpired during his private meeting with Putin.

It was the second time this week that Trump's words about Russian interference required clarification and revision by the White House.

"They truly have taken advantage of the US, but not for long!" he said.

Other reports by iNewsToday