All 17 U.S. intelligence agencies say the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election.
So when President Trump appeared to question that assessment while standing next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki earlier this week, it set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill, including rare rebukes from members of his own party.
But the President is now backpedaling and clarifying some of what he said.
President Trump is defending his one-on-one with Vladimir Putin. On Tuesday night, he tweeted it was a great success.
But hours earlier, the President was responding to a barrage of bipartisan disapproval over comments he made after the meeting about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“They said they think its Russia, I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say, I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said Monday.
“The sentence should have been: I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t or why it wouldn’t be Russia,” Trump said on Tuesday.
At the White House Tuesday, the President said he has ‘full faith’ in the intelligence community:
“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. It could be other people, also. there are lots of people out there. There was no collusion,”m Trump said on Tuesday.
“I don’t accept the president’s comments today. If he wanted to make those comments, he should have had the strength to make them in front of Vladimir Putin,” Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Warner (D-VA) said.
While Democrats are not letting up on their criticism some Republicans appear to be satisfied the President is walking back his comments.
“To put our intelligence community in equivalence with something that a former KGB official says, I think he realized that was a major mistake,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said.
The President said the administration is doing everything in its power to prevent Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms.
Democrats want to hold hearings to find out more about what happened in the two hour one-on-one.
One is already on the scheduled — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will publicly testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week.