- President Donald Trump said that he would hold Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for meddling in the 2016 presidential election because “he’s in charge of the country.”
- Trump said he was “very strong” on Putin during a private meeting at the Helsinki summit and suggested that his stance was firmer than President Barack Obama’s.
- Despite the apparent disagreement between US intelligence assessments and Putin’s denials that Russia had interfered with the 2016 election, Trump stopped short of alleging Putin was lying.
Following the wave of bipartisan concern after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump said he would hold Putin personally responsible for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
During an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor on Wednesday, Trump said he agreed with the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered with the 2016 election: “I have said that numerous times before, and I would say that is true.”
The remarks comes just two days after Trump was criticised for saying he did not “see any reason why” Russia would be responsible for meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election.
Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, Trump refused to back the US intelligence community’s assessment, and instead, railed against the FBI and his political opponents.
On Tuesday, Trump walked back his earlier remarks and read a statement saying he misspoke, adding that he had accepted the intelligence community’s conclusion. But Trump also appeared to undercut his statement and suggested “other people” could have interfered with the election as well.
Asked if he would single out Putin and hold him “personally responsible,” Trump said to Glor that he would.
“Well, I would, because he’s in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country,” Trump said to CBS News. “So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.”
Trump also noted that he was “very strong” on Putin during a private meeting at the summit and suggested that his stance was firmer than his predecessor’s.
“Very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling, we can’t have any of that,” Trump said. “We’re also living in a grown-up world. Will a strong statement – you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement, nobody heard it.”
“And that statement was not acceptable. Didn’t get very much play relatively speaking. But that statement was not acceptable,” Trump said.
“I let him [Putin] know we can’t have this, we’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
‘I don’t want to get into whether or not he’s lying’
Trump’s comments during the interview and US intelligence assessments conflicted with Putin’s denials that Russia had interfered with the 2016 election.
Trump previously cited Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denials of such meddling and appeared to endorse a plan to allow Russian investigators to work with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to question 12 Russians indicted last week by Mueller.
But Trump stopped short of alleging Putin was dishonest and said he did not “want to get into whether or not he’s lying.”
“I can only say that I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently constituted,” Trump said to CBS News. “When they tell me something, it means a lot.”
Watch clips of the CBS Evening News interview here:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 18, 2018
Pres. Trump says "can't have any confidence in the past" of U.S. intelligence agencies, "but I can have a lot of confidence in the present and the future, because it's getting to be now where we're putting our people in." https://t.co/RMtinqRy6d pic.twitter.com/M7xKtiselL
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) July 18, 2018
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