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Trump backtracks on Russia meddling

He was careful to make clear he sided with the intelligence agencies under his own leadership

Steve Holland | Reuters  |  Hanoi 

US President Donald Trump (right) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam on Sunday.	Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump (right) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald on Sunday attempted to clear up confusion over whether he accepts Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of meddling in the US election last year. 

At a news conference in Vietnam, distanced himself from remarks he made on Saturday in which he suggested he believed when he said there had been no Russian meddling in the election that took him to the White House. 

The comments had drawn criticism at home because US intelligence agencies have long since concluded there was Russian meddling. 

“As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted,” said at a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang. 

“As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.” 

He was careful to make clear he sided with the intelligence agencies under his own leadership. 

Former US intelligence director James Clapper had told Reuters: “The fact the president of the United States would take at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable.” 
The Russian issue has clouded Trump’s first year in office and his comments on Saturday were a distraction from his five-nation Asia tour. 

said he still believed did not think there had been Russian meddling. 

“I believe that President really feels, and feels strongly, that he did not meddle in our election,” said, while adding: “What he believes is what he believes.” said he was not interested in arguing with over meddling and wanted to get on with Russia to work on world problems including North Korea, Syria and Ukraine. 

has called allegations of campaign collusion with Moscow a hoax. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, is conducting an investigation that has led to charges against Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates. 

US intelligence agencies have also concluded Russians interfered to tip the election in Trump’s favour through hacking and releasing emails to embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and spreading social media propaganda.

First Published: Mon, November 13 2017. 02:04 IST
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