In an apparent attempt at damage control, President Donald Trump said he accepts that Russia sought to influence the 2016 US election, and that he misspoke by appearing to accept Vladimir Putin’s denials over those of his own intelligence chiefs.
“I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that — and I’ve said this many times — I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said ahead of a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House.
In continuation of an extraordinary series of events leading up to and after the Helsinki Summit, Trump went on to claim that he misspoke when he appeared to take the Russian leader’s denial of interference at face value.
Insisting he had won the race fair and square, Trump said Monday: “I have President Putin, he just said it is not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
This triggered a bitter backlash from both sides of the aisle, and the beleaguered president tried to offer a laborious explanation for his remarks.
“I actually went out and reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave, and I realize that there is need for some clarification,” Trump, 72, said.
“I thought it would be obvious but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t. 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 I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”
“So just to repeat it, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’ and the sentence should have been — and I thought it would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video — the sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”
There have been talks that Trump’s days in the White House are numbered after his unbelievable remarks in Helsinki, with the hashtag #TRE45ON – a reference to accusations of treason – trending since the summit.