President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he accepts the assessment of the intelligence community and does not doubt that Russia tried to interfere in the elections. However, he added that he does not think this interference had any impact. This is a reversal from his press conference Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where he declared that he believed Putin over Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Wait, what did he say on Monday?
During a joint news conference with Putin on Monday, Trump told reporters that, though Coats had told him that Russia had tried to meddle in the 2016 election, Putin had strongly insisted that they had not. Trump added that he did not “see any reason” why the Russians would have tried to interfere. “I have confidence in both parties,” he said of Coats and Putin.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but President Putin’s denial was strong,” Trump reiterated.
Here’s the original statement in question:
With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. 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, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC?
Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.
So 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. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. OK? Thank you.
This statement was met with swift condemnation from many in the president’s own party, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Newt Gingrich, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
What happened on Tuesday?
On Tuesday, Trump backtracked and said that he had meant to say why “wouldn’t” Russia meddle in the election, not why “would” they.
Trump claimed that he had not even realized what he had said until he reviewed the transcript, but that he “thought it would be obvious” what he had meant.
It should have been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t. In 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 I wouldn’t — or why it wouldn’t be Russia.”
So, just to repeat it, I said the word “would” instead of “wouldn’t,” and the sentence should have been — and I thought it be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video, the sentence should have been “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.” Sort of a double negative. So, you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.
BREAKING: President Trump claims he misspoke while discussing election meddling during news conference with Putin: “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ … The sentence should’ve been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia'” pic.twitter.com/2bA9EionD1
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 17, 2018
Trump also said, “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all.”
He added that he had “full faith” in “America’s intelligence agencies.”
Trump: “Let me be totally clear in saying that, and I’ve said this many times, I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.” pic.twitter.com/BCbNHuM48F
— Axios (@axios) July 17, 2018
Trump also said that his administration would work to ensure that no election meddling would taks place this November. “We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018,” he said, adding “and we have a lot of power.”