Trump Claims He Misspoke in Helsinki on Russia Meddling

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin leave a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CN) —  President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he misspoke during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and that what he meant to say was he didn’t see why Russia “wouldn’t” be responsible for meddling in the 2016 election.

In a briefing with reporters at the White House Tuesday afternoon, Trump said he couldn’t understand the strong negative reaction his appearance with Putin was receiving as he flew back to the United States.

“I came back and said, ‘What’s going on … what’s the big deal?’ And then I looked at a transcript of what I said and saw that in one sentence I misspoke, saying ‘would” when I meant “‘wouldn’t.'”

Trump went on to say that he accepts the American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election, but added “it could have been other people also.”

As he has repeatedly in the past, the president also denied that his campaign had colluded in the effort. In fact, he once again attempted to put the onus for Russian meddling on President Barack Obama who, Trump says, “was given information just prior to the election, last election 2016 and they decided to not do anything about it.

“The reason they decided not to do that was pretty obvious because they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election,” Trump said

He said the Obama administration “buried” information on Russian meddling. “Then I got elected and it became a problem.”

Trump spoke a day after returning to the U.S. to nearly universal condemnation of his performance alongside Putin.

During the event in Helsinki, Putin said he wanted Trump to win the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But Trump delivered no condemnation of Russia’s interference and refused to say he believes American intelligence agencies over Russia’s denials of meddling.

Meanwhile,  Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday there is “indisputable evidence” Russia tried to affect the 2016 presidential election.

He says the Senate understands the “Russia threat” and that is the “widespread view here in the United States Senate among members of both parties.”

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also announced that he wants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to brief Capitol Hill on Trump’s meeting with Putin.

The Tennessee Republican said such an appearance would be a “first step” as lawmakers consider responding to the Trump-Putin summit.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said senators want Pompeo to come up “to tell us, was there any deal struck in that two hour meeting?”

Lawmakers are  floating various responses after Trump publicly doubted the intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and suggested he believed Putin’s denials.

“We want to think through what we do so it benefits our country,” Corker said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

%d bloggers like this: