Trump says he holds Putin responsible for election interference

Clay Curtis
July 20, 2018

In rebutting Trump's dismissive comments about USA intelligence on Monday, Coats said in a statement, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy".

On Wednesday, the Russian Prosecutor General's office listed Americans it wanted to question for "illegal activities", including Michael McFaul, who was U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration. Congressional Republicans have criticized the White House for even considering the offer, while McFaul has called it a "ridiculous request from Putin".

Coats, whose office briefs Trump nearly daily on the most classified information on security threats to the United States, made clear that he did not agree with the president's decision to meet with Putin one-on-one, with only translators by their sides.

In it, Trump's distinctive blonde hair, wispy eyebrows and pursed lips merge with Putin's nose and blue eyes. "I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed". Trump also told his followers that the Helsinki meeting was a success, except for "the real enemy of the people, the Fake News media".

Before the meeting in Helsinki, Coats publicly warned that the United States was facing a growing cyber threat, singling out Russian Federation as the country's most hostile adversary.

The Time magazine cover was released just hours after the first portion of the interview aired on Wednesday, and both fueled the discussion about Mr. Trump's remarks during the press conference with Mr. Putin. But this time there was no joint statement to formalize the outcome of the talks - just a meandering, 45-minute press conference where Trump stoked controversy by appearing to side with Putin over US intelligence agencies' assessment that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 election.

"I think it's imperative that he understand that he's misjudging Putin", Graham told reporters. "I don't think he was prepared as well as he should have been".

"I bet that soccer ball's been looked at very carefully", Coats said, laughing.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she still has not seen evidence that Moscow tried to help elect Trump.

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The cover shows the faces of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin morphing together.

Trump has since sought to clean up his comments, saying he "accepts" the USA intelligence findings ― though he's also walked back that stance.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he asked two Senate panels to recommend additional action aimed at preventing future Russian election meddling and hold hearings on an existing Russia sanctions law. I just felt at this point in time that what we had assessed and reassessed and reassessed, carefully gone over still stands.

Coats didn't answer the question directly.

While they had met privately on three occasions in 2017, Trump opened the door to a potential White House meeting with Putin earlier this year.

The scale of the bipartisan outcry at Trump's stance toward Putin has only been rivaled by his 2017 waffling over condemning white supremacist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia. Putin has denied any such meddling.

Despite the diplomacy, Trump claimed he was "tougher" on Russian Federation than his predecessors.

In a meeting at the Foreign Ministry with Russia's ambassadors to other countries, Putin warned them to "take to this into account" in dealing with the U.S. The votes were rejected as illegal by the USA and the European Union, while Ukraine called them a "farce".

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