Trump, Facing Fury, Says He Misspoke With Putin

Trump, Facing Fury, Says He Misspoke With Putin

July 18, 2018, 8 a.m.

President Donald Trump, facing an onslaught of bipartisan fury over his glowing remarks about Vladimir Putin, said more than 24 hours afterward that he had misspoken during his news conference with the autocratic Russian leader.

In one of the only times of his presidency he's admitted to a mistake, Trump said that when he returned Monday from the summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, he "realized there is some need for clarification" about his remarks on Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

"In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,' " the President said Tuesday. He explained he had reviewed a transcript and video of his remarks.

"The sentence should have been: 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia,' " he said.

During Monday's news conference, Trump said, "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia that interfered in the election.

Those officials, led by Pence and Pompeo, helped sway the President to make his statement.

Trump still believes the criticism is being blown out of proportion, one official said, and he plans to try to turn the attacks onto the press once again.

But his attempt at cleanup fell flat to some in the West Wing. Bringing up "no collusion" and saying there "could be other people also" responsible for election interference in addition to Russia is viewed as another mistake, the official said.

The admission came in the White House Cabinet Room, where Trump was sitting with lawmakers for an otherwise unrelated meeting. Reading prepared remarks to reporters, the President reiterated that there had been no collusion between his campaign and Russia and that the country's efforts had no impact on the final election results.

The officials said it became clear early Tuesday that initial discussions of clarifying his remarks on Twitter would not prove sufficient, as Trump was hearing from more and more people through phone calls and messages that he had to say something.

The President spoke to key lawmakers and outside confidants leading up to his remarks, people familiar with the matter said. One driving factor in the clarification, the officials said, was a fear of resignations in the intelligence community -- possibly Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or others — and a sense that Trump's Monday news conference "looked unpatriotic."

And he voiced support for US intelligence agencies -- a day after he had refused to accept their findings on Russia's election interference over Putin's denials -- and vowed to take action to prevent further attacks.

"I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place," Trump said. But diverting from his typewritten notes, the President added: "It could be other people also. A lot of people out there."

Agencies

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