Rebuking Trump's embrace of Putin, U.S. lawmakers look to punish Russian Federation

Screenshot via NBC News

Screenshot via NBC News

Donald Trump has sensationally claimed he misspoke when he used a joint press conference with Vladimir Putin to say he saw no reason why Russian Federation would have meddled in the USA election.

Speaking from a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House, Trump said he had "full faith" in U.S. intelligence agencies, and wanted to clarify his statements from the day before.

Trump stunned the world by shying away from criticising the Russian leader for Moscow's actions to undermine the election and cast doubt on U.S. intelligence agencies, prompting calls by some USA lawmakers for tougher sanctions and other actions to punish Russia. "There was no collusion at all".

But tonight, Trump has dramatically rowed back on his comments, insisting that he meant to say he "did" believe Russian Federation was involved in attempting to influence the outcome of the vote.

Mr. Trump said he misspoke at a joint press conference Monday with Mr. Putin when he said he "didn't know why it would be" Russian Federation that hacked the election. Moran also said he believes Trump sees Russian Federation as an adversary and may have delivered tough messages in private.

Ryan also said special counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to continue his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, adding "nothing has changed".

Asked by Reuters' Jeff Mason on Monday whether he held Russia accountable for anything, Trump stunned observers when he said he held "both countries responsible" for the deterioration in US-Russia relations.

Moments earlier, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued a public reassurance to US allies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Europe with whom Trump clashed during his frenzied Europe trip last week.

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But speaking today, President Trump sought to clarify his comments.

The president also claimed he misspoke in Finland when he said he saw no reason to believe Moscow meddled in the election.

President Trump tried to squirm away from what he said yesterday.

Greenwald said Trump has taken shots from all sides.

Trump praised one of few Republicans to defend his presser performance, thanking Rand Paul for noting, "The President has gone through a year and a half of through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations - what's he supposed to think?"

"We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018", he said. Mark Warner (Va.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters Tuesday, comparing the president's response to his remarks after the Charlottesville rally.

The political firestorm over his performance at the Helsinki news conference has engulfed the administration and spread to his fellow Republicans, eclipsing most of the frequent controversies that have erupted during Trump's turbulent 18 months in office. "Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary, but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are - a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and overseas".

"In one week, President Trump attacked our allies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and cozied up to Putin who funds and provides military support for hostile regimes in Syria and Iran - and represents an imminent threat to the freedom and independence of the Baltic states". Instead, he said he meant the opposite.

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