Kelly McLaughlin — Business Insider July 16, 2018
President Donald Trump said that he had “great confidence” in US intelligence agencies hours after questioning their conclusions that Russia was to blame for meddling in the 2016 election.
The tweet appeared to backtrack on what Trump said during a joint press conference with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, hours earlier.
“As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.’ However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!” he said in a tweet following the meeting.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
In the press conference earlier on Monday, Trump had openly questioned his own intelligence agencies and denounced the special counsel investigation into Russian interference efforts, which remains ongoing.
“I don’t see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election,” Trump said.
Trump declined to denounce Russia’s interference and even appeared to pin the blame partially on the United States.
“We have two thoughts,” Trump said. “You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the [DNC] server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that.”
He added: “With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me. … They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia.”
Trump had said that he and Putin “spent a great deal of time” discussing allegations that Russia meddled in the election as they met for several hours before the joint press conference.
He again stated that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russians.
“We ran a brilliant campaign and that’s why I’m president,” he said.
Putin admitted that he wanted Trump to win the 2016 presidential election because of his policies but said he took no action to make that happen.
He also suggested that Moscow and Washington, DC, conduct a joint criminal investigation into Russian intelligence officials accused of hacking during the campaign.
Trump’s comments drew heavy criticism from politicians in the United States, including prominent Republicans.
Republican Sen. John McCain said in a statement that Trump made a “conscious decision to defend a tyrant” and achieved “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”