While speaking to reporters on Air Force One, President Trump dismissed U.S. intelligence that showed Russia meddled in the 2016 election. According to Trump, the intelligence assessment is causing Russian president Vladimir Putin stress, which “is not a good thing for our country.”
Speaking to reporters, Trump says Putin told him that he’s growing tired of the repeated inquiries into Russia’s alleged meddling. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump spoke with reporters for over 30 minutes and indicated that he wasn’t interested in confronting Putin over the U.S. intelligence assessment, saying that he’s not “going to get into an argument” with Putin regarding the matter.
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Mr. Trump. “I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”
A report from the U.S. intelligence community in January concluded that Russia attempted to interfere in the presidential election through a campaign of disinformation, data thefts and leaks. The report concluded that the effort was aimed at boosting Mr. Trump and damaging his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Top intelligence officials in the Trump administration—the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency—all testified in May that they accepted the conclusion of the report. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has questioned the findings.
What do you call an American whose loyalty and trust is given to an ex-KGB agent rather than the CIA, FBI, DNI, NSA, MI6, or NATO?
And what does America do when that man is the President of the United States?
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) November 11, 2017
Trump met briefly with Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. When reporters asked Trump if he believed Putin’s denials, he responded by attacking the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies as “political hacks.”
“I mean, give me a break—they’re political hacks,” Trump said according to WSJ. “You have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey’s proven now to be a liar, and he’s proven to be a leaker, so you look at that. And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that.”
In another development this Saturday, the CIA pushed back against Trump’s dismissal of intelligence data. In a statement, the CIA said Director Mike Pompeo and the agency “stands by” the conclusions reached by U.S. intelligence agencies in regards to Russia’s meddling.
“The director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled: ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.’ The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed,” a CIA spokesperson told The Hill.
But Trump takes Putin’s word for it.
“He said he didn’t meddle,” Trump told reporters. “He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.”
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