Trump distances himself from remarks on Putin over election meddling

Donald Trump backtracks on Putin comments, says he agrees Russia meddled in election

Sen. Toomey: 'Thug' Putin Hasn't Been Punished Enough For 2016

President Donald Trump on Sunday claimed he was "with" the US intelligence agencies on their conclusion that Russian Federation attempted to interfere with the 2016 election, after sparking an uproar on Saturday by seeming to side with Putin's constant denial that Russian Federation was involved.

"I do think both the Chinese and the Russians think they can play him", Clapper said. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper agreed that he "seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards. and pomp and circumstance". She says "we categorically disagree with this requirement" and vowed to sue.

But on Sunday, Trump walked back on his initial language, saying, "I believe [Putin] believes that, and that's very important for somebody to believe".

Trump, while speaking Sunday at a news conference in Hanoi, sought to clarify remarks he made a day earlier that suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin was being honest in his denials that Moscow engaged in election meddling.

"There's nothing "America First" about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community", McCain said in a statement.

As he travelled to Hanoi, the second-to-last stop of his Asia trip, Mr Trump told reporters Mr Putin "said he absolutely did not meddle in our election".

The president lashed out at the former heads of the nation's intelligence community, and said there were plenty of reasons to be suspicious of their findings. But President Trump's Asian tour rendered their grim assessment a statement of the obvious.

Trump said an amicable relationship with Russian Federation would be an asset for the USA, not a liability. I believe that he feels that he and Russian Federation did not meddle in the election. "But he says, 'I didn't do that'".

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Trump, who had emphasized on the 2016 campaign trail that it would be nice if the United States and Russian Federation could work together, made this case again on Saturday.

Trump later attempted to soften those comments, claiming, "I believe very much in our intelligence agencies".

Putin's comments at a news conference Saturday in Vietnam follow complaints by the Kremlin-funded RT satellite TV channel that the U.S. Justice Department has ordered it to register as a foreign agent by Monday. "Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process".

Trump walked his comments back on Sunday after they drew heavy backlash from lawmakers and former United States intelligence officials, who said it was "naive" and "puzzling" for Trump to trust Putin over the USA intelligence community.

Clapper said the threat posed by Russian Federation was "manifest and obvious" and that "to try to paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and in fact, poses a peril to this country".

Mnuchin said Trump wants to focus on thorny issues posed by North Korea and Syria and is trying to get Russian Federation on board with the USA strategy. "But he says, 'I didn't do that.' I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country".

Trump has called allegations of campaign collusion with Moscow a hoax.

Part of the answer could be that Trump is easily flattered by foreign leaders if they praise him, as Clapper noted.

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