Less than 24 hours after proclaiming his “full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies,” President Trump contradicted those agencies once again.
Asked by reporters at the start of a Cabinet meeting if Russia is still targeting the U.S., Trump shook his head and answered “no.”
That is counter to a warning issued by his director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, who said last week that “the warning signs are there. The system is blinking,” and that “today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”
Trump said Wednesday, “There’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been,” citing economic sanctions. Earlier, he tweeted that “so many people at the higher ends of intelligence” loved his press conference in Helsinki,” and that he got along well with Putin, “which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match.”
So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!
At that Helsinki press conference following his meeting with Putin on Monday, Trump was asked if he had confronted Putin about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. In response, Trump said that his “people came to me,” and said “they think it’s Russia.” As Putin looked on beside him, Trump said, “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham pointed to “a big discrepancy” between Trump’s latest statement and Coates’ warning.
“It’s imperative we get to the bottom of what is going on so we can be prepared to protect ourselves in advance of the 2018 elections,” Graham said.
On Tuesday, Trump read from a printed statement, and said he had misspoken. “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative,” Trump said. “So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good.”
July 18, 2018