WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a rare take back of words, President Donald Trump on Tuesday reversed his comments regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, saying he now accepts the findings of the U.S. intelligence community on the matter.
Speaking with lawmakers during a meeting at the White House, the president said he “misspoke” in comments he made in Helsinki a day earlier when he said he “see any reason why” Russia would want to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Those comments quickly led to outrage from both sides of the political spectrum from those who claimed the president was taking Russia’s side over that of his own intelligence team.
“I came back and said ‘What is going on, what’s the big deal?’” Trump said, adding that he had reviewed transcripts of his comments and “realized that there is a need for some clarification.”
I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’ … sort of a double negative,” Trump claimed, adding that he used the wrong choice of words. “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” he said, but added: “It could be other people also.”
In an effort to end the meeting on a high note, the president touted the good news that came as a result of his meeting with NATO allies abroad.
“We are going to have peace, that’s what we want, and that’s what we’re going to have. I say peace through strength,” Trump said, adding the talks brought a “great spirit that we didn’t have before.”
The president’s supporters have come out in droves in an effort to help undo the damage done during Monday’s speech, claiming the scandal is just further proof of a “witch hunt” to bring the president down.
“[The investigation] has shown there was absolutely no collusion with the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence activity leading up to the election,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “That’s what I think has got the president so spun up, is because he feels this is an attack on him personally.”
Meanwhile, the president took to Twitter to vent his frustrations over the controversy.
“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way—the Fake News is going Crazy!”