President Donald Trump accepts the conclusion made by American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, the president said Tuesday, one day after telling reporters that he couldn’t see why Moscow would have interfered.
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Trump on Monday stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and challenged the findings of American intelligence agencies that determined Moscow had interfered.
Trump said he didn’t “see any reason why” Russia would have been involved, despite indictments handed down last week for a dozen of the country’s intelligence officers who are accused of election meddling. The indictments were part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling and its possible ties to Trump and his campaign officials.
On Tuesday, Trump said he misspoke when he said that he didn’t believe Russia meddled in the election.
“In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,’” Trump told reporters in Washington. “The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”
He said he has “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies.”
“Let me be totally clear in saying that ... I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’ meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said. He emphasized that “there was no collusion at all” between Russia and Trump or his campaign officials.
In Helsinki, Trump delivered no condemnation of Russia's interference and refused to say he believes American intelligence agencies over Russia's denials of meddling. His comments drew criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
The special counsel investigation of Russian meddling has led to charges against 32 people accused of crimes ranging from money laundering and falsifying income tax returns to lying to FBI investigators. Five people, including former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, have pleaded guilty to charges in the investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.