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Trump Downplays Russia Election Meddling in Press Conference With Putin

[additional-authors]
July 16, 2018
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Trump held a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, after the two met face-to-face. During the press conference, Trump expressed warmth toward Putin and downplayed Russia’s meddling of the 2016 election.

Trump said that relations between the United States and Russia were at an all-time low because “we’ve all been foolish,” stating that both the United States and Russia were at fault. He proceeded to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and, collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, calling the probe a “disaster.”

Trump went on to suggest that Russia did not interfere in the election at all.

“My people came to me; [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” 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.”

Trump added that Putin made him “an incredible offer” to work with the investigators on the Mueller probe into the 12 Russian nationals that were indicted by the Department of Justice on July 13 over U.S. election hacking.

Coats issued a statement responding to Trump’s assertion that Russia didn’t interfere into the 2016 election.

“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Coats said.

Trump has been criticized by members of both political parties over his Russian meddling comments.

“Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement. “That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.”

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