U.S. President Donald Trump walked back his comments on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election on Tuesday, telling reporters he originally misspoke.
On Monday, at a summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, he implied that he believed the Russian president over his own intelligence sources, garnering widespread backlash from both Republicans and Democrats.
He clarified his comments at the White House on Tuesday, saying he said “would” in place of “wouldn’t” accidentally.
At a joint press conference with Putin, Trump was asked whether he would denounce Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and if the U.S. president would warn against doing it in future.
He responded by asking why the FBI didn’t recover the Democratic National Committee server that was hacked, and then alluded to Hillary Clinton’s email server, which wasn’t relevant to the 2016 election.
Here’s what Trump said Monday:
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.
On Tuesday, he walked back certain parts, most notably the part in which he said, “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Here’s what he said Tuesday:
So I’ll begin by stating that 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 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.
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.
I thought that I made myself very clear by having just reviewed the transcript. Now, I have to say, I came back, and I said, “What is going on? What’s the big deal?” So I got a transcript. I reviewed it. I actually went out and reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave, and I realized that there is need for some clarification.
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 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. Unlike previous administrations, my administration has and will continue to move aggressively to repeal any efforts — and repel — we will stop it, we will repel it — any efforts to interfere in our elections. We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018.
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