US president reverses remark on election meddling

Just one day after denying any Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, Trump said he accepts US intelligence agencies' conclusion that Russia did interfere 

US President Donald Trump sought to reverse his actions on Thursday by accepting US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, despite declining it just a day ago.

Speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, the president stated that he accepted the assessment of US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election – and then, moments later, cast doubt on who was responsible.

“Let me be totally clear in saying that … I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, reading from a prepared script. He then added: “It could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.”

READ MORE: Trump and Putin deny election meddling on TV interviews

He said he had misspoken on Monday and had meant to say he saw no reason why it was not Russia that meddled.

The original comments, after he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, drew a barrage of criticism.

Even some of Trump's allies had urged him to clarify his stance.

IN Helsinki with Putin just a day before,  Trump said Russia had no involvement into the 2016 election meddling

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” He also repeated conspiracist-tinged complaints about a Democratic National Committee server and the FBI.

Now, Trump said he had reviewed the transcript and realised he needed to clarify.

"In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't," he said.

"The sentence should have been: 'I don't see any reason why I wouldn't' or 'why it wouldn't be Russia'. Sort of a double negative."

However, he did not respond when reporters asked him if he would condemn Putin.

Before Trump spoke, Republicans struggled to defend him on Capitol Hill. House speaker Paul Ryan told reporters: “They did interfere in our elections. It’s really clear. They should be no doubt about that. Russia is trying to undermine democracy itself.

“I understand the desire and the need to have good relations. That’s perfectly reasonable. But Russia is a menacing government that does not share our interests and it does not share our values.”

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said: “The Russians need to understand there are a lot of us who really understand what happened in 2016 and it really better not happen again in 2018.”

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