US President Donald Trump said that he firmly believes the American intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in 2016 US Presidential elections and his remarks contrary to this a day earlier in Helsinki was a case of misspeaking.
His clarification statement came after he faced massive criticism from opponents and even from his own party when he returned to US for not backing the assessment of his intelligence agencies during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies, always have. And I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying and I’ve said this many times, I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all, and people have seen that and they’ve seen that strongly. The House has already come out very strongly on that, a lot of people have come out strongly on that,” he said amidst a national political outrage over his remarks that the Russians did not interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.
At the Helsinki press conference, Trump had said “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia that meddled in the US election.
Trump, however, said that he misspoke.
“It should’ve been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case I wasn’t. 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,” he said.
“So just to repeat it, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’, and the sentence should have been — and I thought I would 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.
“I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections,” said the US President.
Trump alleged that unlike previous administrations, his administration has and will continue to move aggressively to repeal any efforts and will stop and repel any efforts to interfere in US elections.
“We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018. We have a lot of power. As you know, President (Barack) Obama has given information just prior to the last election 2016, and they decided not to do anything about it. The reason they decided that was pretty obvious, cause oh, they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.
“They didn’t think it was a big deal. When I won the election, they thought it was a very big deal and all of a sudden, they went into action but it was a little bit late,” Trump said.
Top officials of the Obama administration knew about Russia’s attempt to interfere in the election in September and they totally buried it because they thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win, he alleged.
“By contrast, my administration has taken a very firm stance on a strong action. We’re going to take strong action to secure our election systems and the process. Furthermore, as has been stated and we’ve stated it previously and on many occasions, no collusion,” Trump added.
(With agency inputs)