Donald Trump has been dealing with some “he-said-she-said” drama as he walked back a prior comment about Russian election meddling, as detailed by Bustle.
It started with ABC News’ Cecilia Varga, who says she asked Trump about Russian meddling on Tuesday, to which Trump replied, “They said they think it’s Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia… I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Over 24 hours later, Trump walked back his statement. Varga maintains that “I believe he heard me clearly. He answered two of my questions.” The reporter said that she asked Trump a follow-up question, “No? You don’t believe that to be the case?” to which Trump responded, “No.” This is what Trump said about the matter.
“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn’t… The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things.”
And on Wednesday morning, a reporter asked, “Is Russia still targeting the United States, Mr. President?” to which he responded, “No.” Later on in the day, Sarah Sanders held a press conference to clear up the air, maintaining that Trump meant to say “wouldn’t” instead of “would,” and that he was saying “No” to answering questions.
And finally, Trump has come out with another statement, which is aimed at clearing the air again. According to TheGuardian, during an interview with Jeff Glor of CBS News, Trump said that he told Putin during their meeting that he was “Very strong on the fact that we can’t have meddling, we can’t have any of that.”
The president also said that “I don’t want to get into whether or not [Putin]’s lying. I can only say I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently constituted. I think Dan Coats is excellent… we have excellent people. So when they tell me something it means a lot.”
Trump also reiterated that he believes the U.S. intelligence agency’s assessment that Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential elections.
Democrats were getting increasingly incensed as Trump did not take a clearer stance on the subject until the statements he gave to Jeff Glor. Considering that the meeting with Putin took place days after 12 Russian officials were indicted on charges of meddling in the U.S. elections, many people expected the meeting to even be canceled outright.
However, Trump went through with the planned meeting. He says that the two leaders discussed North Korea and protecting Israel, among other highly charged topics.