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Trump accepts US intel findings of Russian election meddling, misspoke at Putin summit, he says

First Lady Melania Trump during a joint press conference between President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation | July 16, 2018 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
July 17, 2018

President Donald Trump held a surprise meeting with reporters in the Cabinet room ahead of his meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday.

He addressed the joint press conference he had Monday following his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

“I have full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies,” Trump said, adding that he accepts U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusions about Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election, adding that it could have been other countries.

He also said he misspoke when he said in Helsinki that he didn’t see how the election meddling “would” be Russia, and instead should have said he didn’t see how it “wouldn’t” be Russia.

Trump pointed out that Russia’s actions “had no impact” on the election.

“As successful as NATO was, I think that was our most successful visit [in Helsinki]. That had to do with Russia. I met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing humanity,” the President said.

Getting along with Russia is a “positive” thing, Trump continued.

“We have 29 members in NATO, for example, and I have great relationships or good relationships with everybody,” he went on.

“Let me begin by saying, once again, full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies. I have full faith and support for our intelligence agencies. Always have,” Trump stressed.

“I have felt very strongly that Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the election’s outcome, I accept our intelligence communities’ conclusion that Russia’s meddling took place. It could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there,” Trump said.

“There was no collusion,” he quickly added, and later again stressed the same point.

“I thought that I made myself very clear. I came back and said, what is going on, what’s the big deal? I reviewed the transcript… I realized there is a need for some clarification,” the President said.

“It should have been obvious, I thought it was… A key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,'” he explained.

“Sort of a double negative,” Trump said.

“I have on numerous occasions noted out intelligence findings of Russia’s attempts to interfere in our elections,” he said.

His administration will stop and repel interference in U.S. elections, Trump pointed out, adding that the U.S. will secure the election systems.

He said his meeting with Putin was “really strong,” and Russia was willing to do things that “frankly, I thought they wouldn’t be willing to do.”

“I have the strongest respect for our intelligence agencies headed by my people,” Trump said. “We have tremendous talent within the agencies. We all want the same thins, we want success for our country.”

Politicians on both sides of the aisle had criticized Trump for the presser, but also several high-profile Republicans. Sen. John McCain said the summit with Putin was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted a rare rebuke of Trump and said he “must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected – immediately.”

Trump on Monday had tweeted: “As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along.”