Update, 4:10 pm EST: In a press briefing shortly after Trump’s cabinet meeting, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that Trump was responding “no” to taking more questions from reporters—not to the question of whether Russia continues to target US elections, as US intelligence agencies have definitively concluded.
NEW: Press Sec. Sanders says Pres. Trump's earlier "no" comment was no to answering questions, not whether he thought Russia was still targeting the U.S. https://t.co/MujCvtizb0 pic.twitter.com/VQbgxvJq38
— ABC News (@ABC) July 18, 2018
President Donald Trump told reporters that Russia is no longer threatening US elections, despite repeated assessments from intelligence officials, including most recently his own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, that the Kremlin is doing exactly that.
“No,” was Trump’s simple response after being asked if Russia is targeting upcoming elections during a Wednesday cabinet meeting. The president’s curt answer flies in the face of Coats’ warning last week that signs of Russian meddling are “blinking red again.”
Trump continued on to claim that no president in US history has been more “tough” against Russia. “All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done. Look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not here. Look unfortunately at what happened in Syria recently,” he explained. He also insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unhappy with various actions taken by the US.
Trump’s response comes after several head-spinning public remarks this week concerning Russian interference, beginning when he sided with Russia over US intelligence and law enforcement agencies during a Helsinki press conference alongside Putin on Monday. One day later, amid blistering criticism over his performance in Finland, Trump read from a prepared statement that claimed he had simply misspoken . “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,'” Trump said. “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t’ or ‘why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”
JUST IN: President Trump said "no" when asked by reporters if Russia is still meddling in U.S. elections.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 18, 2018