Trump tries to calm political storm over Putin summit, says he misspoke

Trump tries to calm political storm over Putin summit, says he misspoke
# 17 July 2018 22:57 (UTC +04:00)

U.S. President Donald Trump tried on Tuesday to calm a storm over his failure to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, saying he misspoke in a joint news conference in Helsinki on Monday, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Trump stunned the world by shying away from criticizing the Russian leader for Moscow’s actions to undermine the election and cast doubt on U.S. intelligence agencies, prompting calls by some U.S. lawmakers for tougher sanctions and other actions to punish Russia.

“I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,’” Trump told reporters at the White House, more than 24 hours after his appearance with Putin. “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”

Trump, who had been given numerous opportunities to publicly rebuke Putin in Helsinki, praised the Russian leader during the news conference for his “strong and powerful” denial of the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian state meddled in the election.

Although he faced pressure from critics, allied countries and even his own staff to take a tough line, Trump spoke not a single disparaging word in public about Moscow on any of the issues that have brought relations between the two nuclear powers to the lowest ebb since the Cold War.

Republicans and Democrats accused him of siding with an adversary rather than his own country.

Trump said on Tuesday he had complete faith in U.S. intelligence agencies and accepted their conclusions, although he insisted Russia’s actions had no impact on the outcome.

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.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that Russia was not a friend of the United States and warned against a repeat of the 2016 election meddling.

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