by Brooke Seipel · November 11, 2017
President Trump clarified his comments Sunday on whether he believes Russia meddled in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, saying, “I believe in our intel agencies.”
Trump had told reporters on Air Force One Saturday that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he didn’t meddle in the election.
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said Saturday.
The comment quickly became the subject of backlash, prompting Trump to clarify the comments in a joint press conference with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang on Sunday morning local time.
“What I said is, I believe [Putin] believes that,” Trump said at the press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. “I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted, with their leadership.”
“I believe in our intel agencies. I’ve worked with them very strongly,” Trump added.
Trump and Putin met Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Danang, Vietnam. Trump said Putin is “very insulted” by the suggestion Moscow attempted to hack the election.
Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded occurred in the 2016 presidential race.
Trump’s comments siding with intel agencies also come after he hit former U.S. intelligence officials by name, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey.
“I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks,” Trump said on Air Force One, according to White House pool reports. He was discussing the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump.
“So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey,” he continued. “Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker.”