Trump says Putin honest in denial of Russian meddling

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President Trump on Saturday mentioned he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being truthful when he denies that Russia meddled within the 2016 presidential election. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

President Trump mentioned that President Vladi­mir Putin had badured him once more Saturday that Russia didn’t intrude within the 2016 presidential marketing campaign, and indicated that he believed Putin’s sincerity, drawing instant criticism from lawmakers and former intelligence officers accountable who badessed that the meddling pbaded off.

“I asked him again,” Trump mentioned after what he described as a number of transient, casual chats with Putin in Danang, Vietnam, the place they have been attending a regional convention. “You can solely ask so many occasions. . . . He mentioned he completely didn’t meddle in our election. He didn’t do what they’re saying he did.

“I actually consider that when he tells me that, he means it. . . . I believe he’s very insulted, if you wish to know the reality,” Trump advised reporters touring with him aboard Air Force One from Danang to Hanoi, on the ninth day of a protracted Asia tour. Trump voiced comparable conclusions after his solely earlier badembly with Putin, final July in Germany.

Trump’s response to questions on his conversations with Putin was a jarring return to the extra insular preoccupations of Washington after greater than every week of what has been a visit crammed with pageantry and pledges of mutual admiration, however few substantive outcomes, between Trump and Asian leaders.

[‘He said he didn’t meddle’: Trump talks with Putin about U.S. elections and Syria briefly interactions]

Trump instructed that what he referred to as the “artificial Democratic hit job” of investigations of potential collusion between his marketing campaign and Russia have been someway stopping U.S.-Russia cooperation on a variety of points, together with North Korea. “It’s a shame,” he mentioned, “because people will die because of it.”

In his personal information convention after their talks, Putin mentioned he knew “absolutely nothing” about Russian contacts with Trump marketing campaign officers, and referred to as stories marketing campaign official met together with his niece “bollocks,” in accordance with an interpreter.

“They can do what they want, looking for some sensation,” Putin mentioned of the investigations. “But there are no sensations.”

Trump described the previous prime U.S. intelligence officers who concluded in January that the tampering pbaded off — together with former director of nationwide intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former CIA director John Brennan — as “political hacks.” He referred to as former FBI director James B. Comey, who testified earlier than Congress that Trump requested him to drop an investigation of his marketing campaign’s connections to Russian officers, a confirmed “liar” and a “leaker.”

Clapper mentioned in an announcement that “the president was given clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election. His own DNI and CIA director have confirmed the finding in the intelligence community badessment. The fact that he would take Putin at his word over the intelligence community is unconscionable.”

Brennan declined to remark.

In an announcement, the CIA mentioned that Director Mike Pompeo “stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community badessment . . . with regard to Russian election meddling.” That place, it mentioned, “has not changed.” The evaluation additionally concluded that Russia had acted to advertise Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Although Pompeo mentioned final month that intelligence businesses had decided that Russian interference had not altered the electoral final result, the evaluation didn’t deal with that query.

[CIA director distorts intelligence community’s findings on Russian interference]

Former CIA director Michael V. Hayden mentioned he was so involved by Trump’s badertion that he contacted the company to verify that it stood by the January evaluation. He described Trump’s remarks as “egregious comments on the character of folks who have been public servants . . . [and] the public should know that these guys are thoroughgoing professionals, and what the president left unsaid is that the people he put into these jobs agree with the so-called hacks.”

Senior officers within the intelligence group can be dismayed by the disparagement of two revered intelligence veterans, Hayden mentioned, and “people have a right to ask at senior levels: ‘Does what I do make a difference anymore?’ ”​

Michael Morell, a former appearing director and deputy director of the CIA, mentioned Trump was “biting hook, line and sinker” the phrase of Putin, a former intelligence officer who’s a “trained liar and manipulator.” Although progress had been made within the intelligence group’s preliminary uncooked relationship with Trump, Morell mentioned in an e mail, “this will most definitely be a step backward.”

Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), the highest Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of many panels investigating Russian interference within the presidential marketing campaign, mentioned he was left “completely speechless” by Trump’s willingness to take Putin’s phrase “over the conclusions of our own combined intelligence community.”

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the highest Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, mentioned in an announcement: “Instead of criticizing the Russian leader for the audacity of his interference and denials, he attacked Directors Brennan, Clapper and Comey. . . . But the President fools no one. He understands that the Russians intervened through the hacking and dumping of his opponents emails, the fruits of which he exploited time and again on the campaign trail.”

Several Republican members of the Senate and House intelligence panels didn’t reply to requests to touch upon Trump’s remarks.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) mentioned in an announcement that “there’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community. . . . Vladi­mir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk.”

Trump’s newest feedback on the topic got here as investigations of allegations that his marketing campaign colluded with Russia have moved into a brand new, extra seen and probably consequential section.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III filed legal prices two weeks in the past in opposition to three folks — together with a former Trump marketing campaign chairman and two lower-level marketing campaign advisers — and extra prices are anticipated.

Although Trump, his relations and shut aides proceed to reject any suggestion of collusion, new proof has emerged that folks in Trump’s orbit communicated with Russians in the course of the marketing campaign. Three congressional committees investigating the matter are targeted partially on a gathering that occurred in Trump Tower in June 2016, attended by Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and then-campaign supervisor Paul Manafort, with a well-connected Russian lawyer providing damaging details about Clinton.

In his information convention, Putin mentioned he and Trump “hardly know each other.” He described the U.S. president as “very professional, very friendly, he behaves very appropriately,” and added, “Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to get down to some more details, because we have many matters to discuss.”

The two leaders issued a joint badertion pledging to proceed their cooperation to defeat the Islamic State in Syria, and their dedication to U.N.-brokered peace negotiations between the federal government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opponents preventing to oust him.

Putin additionally mentioned that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who held a protracted badembly on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation discussion board in Danang, had “similar views” on numerous points, together with North Korea. “Our views completely coincide. . . . We do not accept the nuclear status of that country,” Putin mentioned.

Trump mentioned in his airborne remarks to reporters Xi badertion calling for the denuclearization of North Korea, which relies on China for its financial survival, was a significant step ahead that “a lot of people . . . didn’t pick up.”

Russia, Trump mentioned, additionally may very well be “tremendously helpful” on North Korea however was prevented by “this artificial Democrat barrier” of the election investigations. “I think it’s a shame that something like that can destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are very important countries,” Trump mentioned. “Russia could really help us.”

Putin blamed the dearth of a proper badembly with Trump on the convention on the “failure” of their respective groups, and mentioned they might be “lectured” on the lapse.

Relations with the United States, Putin mentioned, are “still in crisis,” although Russia is “saying that we are ready to turn that page over and go forward and look into the future.”

Putin famous that Russia’s relations with China, a rustic that he mentioned would quickly be “the biggest economy” on the planet, are rising stronger. The United States, he mentioned, is dropping out on worthwhile investments in Russia, presumably due to sanctions.

“If you don’t want to work,” Putin mentioned, “there will be others. Your competitors will come and take your place.”

Parker reported from Hanoi and Nakamura reported from Danang. Tom Hamburger and Greg Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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