President Trump said Tuesday he misspoke when he claimed during a Monday press conference that he did not see why Russia would have meddled in the 2016 election.
Speaking to reporters during a closed-door meeting with congressional Republicans, Trump said he has “full faith” in the U.S. intelligence community and accepts its conclusion that Moscow carried out several cyber attacks against Democratic party officials and state election systems during the most recent presidential election, and prior ones.
“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies,” Trump said at the White House, less than 24 hours after he cast doubt on his confidence in U.S. intelligence during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I have felt very strongly that while Russia had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me totally clear in saying that I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” he added. He also repeated his claim that there was “no collusion” between the Kremlin and his campaign associates during the presidential race.
The Washington Examiner reports,
The president’s expression of confidence in top intelligence officials, such as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, comes as he faces severe backlash from politicians and former officials on both sides of the political spectrum for refusing to acknowledge Russia’s attempts to undermine U.S. elections.
The turnaround came after Trump said Monday that he didn’t “see any reason why it would be” Russia who carried out cyberattacks against American institutions during the 2016 contest.
“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’” the president said. “So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.”
Trump on Tuesday said he never intended to undermine the intelligence community and simply misspoke. And he blamed the media for covering his comments “quite inaccurately.”
“I thought that I made myself very clear,” he said, noting that he requested a transcript of the press conference after noticing all the negative coverage he had received and criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
“I actually reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave and I realized that there is a need for some clarification,” Trump explained. “It should have been obvious… but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t.”